Harmonia Early Music

Highlights from the 2009 Bloomington Early Music Festival, pt. 1

Concerts from the 2009 Bloomington Early Music Festival, including performances by Hesperus, fortepianist Shuann Chai, ensemble L'AURA, and Chatham Baroque.

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bloomington early music festival opera tigrane

Photo: Kevin Atkins

A baroque opera performance from a recent Bloomington Early Music Festival.

The Bloomington Early Music Festival has been presenting outstanding performers and concerts for nearly two decades. It was originally founded in the early 1990s by a handful of students from the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. In the intervening years, the festival has gained national standing as a series for enthusiastic audiences to enjoy innovative programming of music from the Middle Ages through the early Romantic era, and beyond.

Also known by the acronym BLEMF, its mission is to provide a platform that presents both established performers and up-and-coming artists.

Shuann Chai

The 2009 festival was no different in that regard. One performer who returned for a second time was Shuann Chai, a young American fortepianist who played a Beethoven concerto with the BLEMF orchestra and gave a recital of music by Schubert, Beethoven, and Czerny, as well as Franz Liszt who transcribed a famous work by Beethoven for piano—An die Ferne Geliebte (“To the Distant Beloved”).

Hesperus

Not a single year goes by without a concert of medieval music at the festival. This year, Hesperus presented a program entitled ‘Ecco la primavera’: 14th and 15th century music from court and countryside. Performers Tina Chancey, Grant Herreid, Johana Arnold, and Tom Zajac celebrated love and springtime as inspired by Petrarch and Boccaccio. They all took individual turns singing and performing on a multitude of winds, strings, and percussion.

The program was dedicated to Hesperus’ musical ancestors known as jongleurs, who were journeymen musicians that traveled around Western Europe between the 12th and 15th Centuries. The jongleurs musical abilities and lifestyle have been the subject of tales since their time.

L’AURA

The ensemble L’AURA presented a concert of music from 17th-century Spain and Latin America. Entitled ‘Por Selebrar’ (“To Celebrate”), the program centered on villancicos and solo songs heard in the cathedral cities of Madrid, Mexico City, and Bogotá, Colombia. Instrumental arrangements of Spanish harp pieces from the period rounded out the performance.

Chatham Baroque

The American trio Chatham Baroque is one of the more well-established ensembles in North America. Their festival program featured music of German baroque composers, including famous names such as J.S. Bach and Dieterich Buxtehude. Chatham Baroque’s concert also presented composers that you might not have heard of. Philipp Heinrich Erlebach is one such person on the program whose music has been making a resurgence over the past decade. His violin sonatas, in particular, have quietly become favorites of many baroque violinists.

The new release this week features the Aulos Ensemble on the Centaur label. A quartet made up of violin, flute, cello, and harpsichord, the group’s program centers on arrangements by Jean-Phillipe Rameau of suites from two of his operas—Les fêtes d’Hebé and Les Indes galantes.

Music Heard On This Episode

Jean-Phillipe Rameau: Musette tender en rondeau and Menuets
The Aulos Ensemble — Suites from Les fêtes d’Hebé and Les Indes galantes (Centaur, 2009)
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album cover
Jean-Phillipe Rameau: Musette tender en rondeau and Menuets
The Aulos Ensemble — Suites from Les fêtes d’Hebé and Les Indes galantes (Centaur, 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Ludwig van Beethoven (trans. Franz Liszt): An die Ferne Geliebte, op. 98
Shuann Chai, fortepiano — Bloomington Early Music Festival
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Faenza Codex, early 15th c.: "De tout flor" and Istampita Ghaetta (anonymous)
Hesperus (Tina Chancey, Grant Herreid, Johana Arnold, and Tom Zajac) — “Ecco la primavera”: 14th and 15th century music from court and countryside
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Juan de Baeza Saavedra: "Por selebrar este dia," "Dos estrellas le siguen," (Manuel Machado), "Vengan, que lo plegona la negla," (Anonymous)
L’AURA/Bernard Gordillo — ‘Por Celebrar’ (“To Celebrate”): Music from 17th-century Spain and Latin America
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Philipp Heinrich Erlebach: Sonata Seconda
Chatham Baroque — Bloomington Early Music Festival
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Jean-Phillipe Rameau: Air pour Zephire and Chaconne
The Aulos Ensemble — Suites from Les fêtes d’Hebé and Les Indes galantes (Centaur, 2009)
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album cover
Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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