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Highlights from the 2009 Indianapolis Early Music Festival

For over four decades, the Indianapolis Early Music Festival has been presenting world-class concerts in one of America’s largest cities. A veritable institution, the festival’s programs have sought to offer both standard and obscure works from the Middle Ages through the baroque. The festival’s current Artistic Director is Mark Cudek.

Ex Umbris

The 2009 festival was no different in regards to its tradition of innovative programming. The ensemble Ex Umbris gave a program entitled “Melancholy: Downe in the Dumpes in Elizabethan England,” which included substantial choreography, instrumental playing, and dynamic singing by soprano Nell Snaidas.

Reconstruction

Unrequited love was a recurring theme in ensemble Reconstruction’s program entitled “Bedlam, Back, and Beyond.” Comprised of three sopranos, a cellist, and harpsichordist, Reconstruction’s performance included pieces for the entire ensemble as well solos for each soprano by Italian and English composers from the 17th Century.

Harmonious Blacksmith

The young Baltimore-based ensemble Harmonious Blacksmith gave a rousing concert of late-Baroque orchestral concertos, which included composers Telemann, J.S. Bach, and Vivaldi. The ensemble’s harpsichordist and co-director Joseph Gascho was one of the soloists in a performance of Bach’s concerto for harpsichord, two recorders, strings and continuo. The work is, in fact, an arrangement by Bach himself of the 4th Brandenburg concerto.

The Peabody Consort

The Peabody Consort, led by festival director Mark Cudek, rounded out the festival with a program devoted to music and scenes from William Shakespeare’s plays. Entitled “If Musick be the Food of Love,” the program also featured two actors—Robert Neal and Milicent Wright—from the Indiana Repertory Theater.

New Release

Our new release of the week features the baroque chamber orchestra Ensemble 415 under the direction of Chiara Banchini. Their latest recording on the Zig-Zag Territories label brings us Tomaso Albinoni’s complete Sinfonias in five parts, op. 2.

Albinoni, a contemporary of Corelli and Vivaldi, was a successful composer whose music was in demand throughout Europe, especially among amateur musicians—although, he did have a number of sophisticated admirers such as Johann Sebastian Bach.

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