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Harmonia Early Music

Spotlight On Julianne Baird

We’re shining a spotlight on soprano Julianne Baird. We’ll also hear a modern approach to English renaissance music on a featured release by Joel Frederiksen.

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julianne baird

Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Soprano Julianne Baird.

Time capsule for this episode: 1156

Early Music Meets Traditional in the Great White North

There’s always been some overlap between early music and folk music, and some early music performers turn to folk traditions for inspiration. Let’s start this hour by heading north to Canada to hear from a couple of musicians whose work crosses over to traditional sources.

Anonymous (Acadian traditional): Tr. 15 – Le jour du marriage (4’34”)
Suzie LeBlanc — Tout Passe (Atma Classique , 2007)
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Soprano Suzie Leblanc spent her childhood in Acadia, a region of northeastern Canada where Quebecois, English, Irish, and Scottish heritages merge.  Returning to her roots after decades of success with baroque and classical repertories, LeBlanc performs arrangements of traditional melodies on two albums—Tout passe and La mer jolie. She is accompanied by an ensemble whose members play viola da gamba, lute, flute and fiddle.

Anonymous (Acadian traditional): Tr. 8 - Le Mari jaloux (4’16”)
Suzie LeBlanc — La Mer Jolie (Atma Classique , 2004)
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Tr. 16 – Cape Wrath (Cape Breton) (1:00)
Chris Norman / Dan R. MacDonald — The Beauty of the North (Dorian Recordings , 1994)
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Early music meets traditional tunes from Canada: Suzie LeBlanc sang an Acadian song called Le Mari jaloux, followed by flutist Chris Norman performing “Cape Wrath,” a traditional tune from Cape Breton, from the recording The Beauty of the North. On this recording Norman and Cape Breton fiddler Dan R. MacDonald present adaptations of traditional Scottish and Irish tunes along with new compositions.

Spotlight on Julianne Baird

The renowned soprano Julianne Baird has been delighting concert audiences all over the world for many years. She has performed with ensembles ranging from the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras to the Waverly Consort and has made more than 100 recordings of medieval, renaissance, baroque and classical music.

Let’s listen to Julianne Baird sing an aria from George Frideric Handel’s opera Semele with the Brewer Chamber Orchestra. Semele has an amorous plot loosely drawn from Greek mythology. It’s therefore not surprising that in 1744 it offended listeners at Covent Garden’s annual Lenten concert series, who were expecting an uplifting, Bible-based oratorio.  Originally set completely in English, it also irritated fans of Italian opera, and so the work initially received only four performances.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Tr. 14 - Semele: Myself I shall adore (7’21”)
Julianne Baird / Brewer Chamber Orchestra / Rudolph Palmer — Handel Arias (Newport Classic, 1994)
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Next we’ll hear Baird sing one of the most famous songs of the early 17th century. It comes from Giulio Caccini’s Le nuove musiche of 1602, a collection of Caccini’s songs that includes a preface full of information how the pieces were to be performed—a gold mine for practitioners of historical performance.

Giulio Caccini (1551-1618): Tr. 2 – Amarilli mia bella (from Le nuove musiche) (2’35”)
Julianne Baird / Colin Tilney / Myron Lutzke — Songs of Love and War (Dorian Recordings , 1993)
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Julianne Baird leads a very busy life that combines performance and pedagogy.  She holds a BA in Music History and MA in Musicology from the Eastman School of Music; a Diploma in Performance Practice from the Mozarteum in Salzburg; and a PhD in Musicology from Stanford.

As Distinguished Professor of Music at Rutgers University, Baird teaches music history and literature and coaches vocal ensembles. She has presented lectures, workshops and master classes all over North America – and all this in addition to her very active performing career!

Let’s hear a performance by Ms. Baird of Barbara Strozzi’s lament Lagrime mie.  Strozzi was a musical pioneer in her own time, publishing vast amounts of music in single-composer volumes and holding her own in male-dominated intellectual circles.

Barbara Strozzi (1619-77): Tr. 12 - Lagrime mie (10’32”)
Julianne Baird / Colin Tilney — Musica Dolce (Dorian Recordings , 1993)
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Featured release: Requiem for a Pink Moon

Our featured release is an unusual weaving together of sixteenth-century lute song with music of a twentieth-century singer-songwriter.

Joel Fredericksen and Ensemble Phoenix Munich performed Thomas Campion’s “Never weather-beaten sail” from the recording Requiem for a Pink Moon.

On this recording, Fredericksen pays tribute to England’s enduring tradition of musical excellence.  Music of John Dowland and Thomas Campion is combined with songs of Nick Drake, a British singer-songwriter who died in 1974 at the age of 26.

The music of Dowland and Campion was nearly forgotten between the seventeenth century and the twentieth. Similarly, Nick Drake’s final album Pink Moon received very little attention for years after his death. In each case, it might be claimed that the music’s survival was ensured by cult followings that slowly introduced the music to a broader public.

These songs are linked by similarities of musical style.  The sparse melodies of Drake, Dowland, and Campion conjure up strong melancholic moods and give weight to the all-important text.  Fredericksen’s performances emphasize their timelessness poignancy.

Thomas Campion (1567-1620) Tr. 16 – Never weather-beaten sail (4’06”) / Nick Drake (1948-1974) Tr. 13 –Time has told me (4:12) / John Dowland (1563-1626) Tr. 12 – Time stands still [from The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Ayres, 1603) (4’43”)
Joel Frederiksen / Ensemble Phoenix Munich — Requiem for a Pink Moon (Harmonia Mundi France , 2012)
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Anonymous (Acadian traditional): Tr. 15 – Le jour du marriage (4’34”)
Suzie LeBlanc — Tout Passe (Atma Classique , 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Anonymous (Acadian traditional): Tr. 8 - Le Mari jaloux (4’16”)
Suzie LeBlanc — La Mer Jolie (Atma Classique , 2004)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 16 – Cape Wrath (Cape Breton) (1:00)
Chris Norman / Dan R. MacDonald — The Beauty of the North (Dorian Recordings , 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): Tr. 14 - Semele: Myself I shall adore (7’21”)
Julianne Baird / Brewer Chamber Orchestra / Rudolph Palmer — Handel Arias (Newport Classic, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Giulio Caccini (1551-1618): Tr. 2 – Amarilli mia bella (from Le nuove musiche) (2’35”)
Julianne Baird / Colin Tilney / Myron Lutzke — Songs of Love and War (Dorian Recordings , 1993)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Barbara Strozzi (1619-77): Tr. 12 - Lagrime mie (10’32”)
Julianne Baird / Colin Tilney — Musica Dolce (Dorian Recordings , 1993)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Thomas Campion (1567-1620) Tr. 16 – Never weather-beaten sail (4’06”) / Nick Drake (1948-1974) Tr. 13 –Time has told me (4:12) / John Dowland (1563-1626) Tr. 12 – Time stands still [from The Third and Last Booke of Songs or Ayres, 1603) (4’43”)
Joel Frederiksen / Ensemble Phoenix Munich — Requiem for a Pink Moon (Harmonia Mundi France , 2012)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Laura Osterlund

Laura Osterlund is a scriptwriter for Harmonia, recorder player, and student at McGill Univeristy in Montreal, Canada. In 2007, she moved from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois to Montreal in pursuit of a B.Mus. with major concentrations in Early Music Performance and Music History. Laura is an active musician throughout Montreal and Chicago and an avid memberof the movement to promote Early Music performance, pedagogy, research, and appreciation throughout North America.

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  • Joel Frederiksen

    Thanks for the feature about Requiem for a Pink Moon. We just won an Echo prize in Germany–their Grammy. I was VERY pleased that you did a feature on my good friend, Julianne Baird. Julianne “discovered” me a bit, auditioning for a doctoral program (which I never did) and recommended me to the Waverly Consort, with whom I later worked. Would be great to perform this program in Indiana! Yours truly, Joel Frederiksen

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