Amanda Balestrieri wants to ‘see you in court’

Seicento Baroque Ensemble will present ‘A Royal Tour’ of music from the courts of Europe

By Peter Alexander March 21 at 11:30 a.m.

When Amanda Balestrieri says “see you in court,” it’s an offer, not a threat.

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Seicento Baroque Ensemble

As director of Seicento Baroque Ensemble, she knows just how much music originated in the royal courts of the 17th and 18th centuries. And for the group’s final concert of the 2018–19 season, she is pulling music from the courts of England, France and other European countries into a single program. “In Your Court: A Royal Tour” will be performed March 22-24 in Boulder, Denver and Longmont.

In addition to the singers of Seicento, the concert features guest vocal soloists and local freelance instrumentalists who make up a small orchestra. The vocalists are students or recent graduates who wanted more experience with the Baroque style.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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“In Your Court: A Royal Tour”
Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Amanda Balestrieri, conductor
With guest soloists and instrumentalists

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22, First United Methodist Church, Boulder
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Julian Pavilion, Highland Center, 2945 Julian St., Denver
2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24, Stewart Auditorium, Longmont

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Seicento focuses on the texts of music for voices and violins

“Baroque Pairings” will be performed in Longmont, Boulder and Denver

By Peter Alexander Nov. 7 at 2:30 p.m.

Amanda Balestrieri, artistic director of Seicento Baroque Ensemble, hopes you will pay attention to the words.

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Amanda Balestrieri, artistic director, and Gerald W. Holbrook, associate conductor and accompanist, with members of Seicento Baroque Ensemble

Seicento’s next concert program, titled “Baroque Pairings: Violins and Voice,” includes several different types of texts, sacred and secular, all set with care and expression. The music comes mostly from the 17thcentury—“Seicento” means 1600s—divided among pieces by German composers and pieces by Venetian and northern Italian composers, including two works from convents in Milan and Novara, Italy.

Performances will be Friday in Longmont, Saturday in Boulder, and in a particularly informal setting Sunday in Denver. The Denver performance will be preceded by a social event with wine available for sale (see details below).

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Amanda Balestrieri

As a singer with a degree in languages, Balestrieri always takes deep interest in the words she sings or directs. For her, what she calls “the marriage of the text” with the music is paramount. “The poet wrote the text, then a composer chooses a text. How do they set this text, and what does this text mean?

“I feel that the text is integral. I’m always involved in the translations, and I am completely on the choir’s case constantly, not only about what the words are, but (the context)—are we in religious fervor, are we in the throes of passion?”

To help direct the listener’s attention to the text, Balestrieri and Seicento came up with an unusual way of laying out the program. The cover lists all the pieces in order—titles and composers—but not the performers. That makes it easy to get an overview of the concert.

Inside the program, every piece is listed again in order, with all the details, including soloists, the text and translation for each piece. “I felt that if we could incorporate the text within the program it would make a lot more sense to people rather than flipping backward and forward all the time through the performance,” she says.

The concert’s theme was suggested by the standard Baroque-era texture of two treble parts and bass. “Around (the 1600s) the violin was becoming a very prominent instrument, and two violins with continuo (bass) was becoming more popular,” Balestrieri says. “It seemed to make sense that first we have the pairing of two violins, and then we have the violins with voices.”

Balestrieri started with music that she knew, and expanded to some new pieces that she found to fit the program. To provide variety, there will be pieces that are instrumental, vocal solos, and choral pieces. Guest performers will be Stacey Brady and Brune Macary, on Baroque violin; Sandra Miller on Baroque cello; and Gerald Holbrook on harpsichord and organ. Vocal soloists will be guests and members of Seicento.

Heinrich Schütz

Heinrich Schütz

The program will be presented in three parts,: “The Germans,” featuring music by Heinrich Schütz, Franz Tunder and Dietrich Buxtehude; “The Nuns of Milan and Novara,” with one piece each by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and Isabella Leonarda; and “The Venetian School,” with music by Biagio Marini, Claudio Monteverdi, Salamone Rossi and Tarquinio Rossi.

“In the German set, what you hear is the solid faith of the Lutheran church set to music, along with a much more human style,” Balestrieri says. “For example, the Tunder is a solo piece (for voice), ‘Awake Wise Virgins,’ and it’s got the giddy excitement of the bride. You really hear this in the music.

Cozzolani“For the nuns, what’s interesting to listen for is how it might have been sung by all women. This music is quite theatrical, but it’s also very much close harmony. It’s very beautiful in that way.”

In the 17thcentury Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe and was known for its brilliant art and music. It was a center for great experimentation in secular musical styles including the madrigal, as well as brilliant sacred music.

“It’s the sacred and secular cross-over,” Balestrieri says. “You have this beautiful writing, going from violin solo (at the beginning of the set) that’s very experimental and fluid, into the madrigals by Monteverdi—he’s going to be a little more out there.”

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Salmon Rossi

The set includes music by Rossi, one of the most remarkable figures of the era. A Jewish violinist/composer who served as concertmaster at the Catholic court in Mantua, Rossi wrote in the style of the period, very much like Monteverdi. “One of the things that is really interesting is that (Rossi) was writing music on a par with all of these other composers,” Balestrieri says.

“He lived through a period of cultural exchange where you have someone who’s forced to live in a ghetto who’s also out doing music and was inducted into court society.”

One of Rossi’s great accomplishments was an extensive set of Jewish liturgical music, Ha-shirim asher li-Shlomo (The Songs of Solomon, after his name and not based on the Biblical Song of Solomon), published in 1623. Three pieces of that collection will close the concert.

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Baroque Pairings: Voices and Violins
Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Amanda Balestrieri, artistic director
Music of The Germans, The Nuns of Milan and Novara, and The Venetian School

7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, First Evangelical Church, 805 Third Ave., Longmont
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruces St., Boulder
3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, The Studios at Overland Crossing, 2201 Delaware St., Denver (preceded by 2 p.m. pre-concert mixer and wine bar)

Information and tickets

 

Seicento appoints Amanda Balestrieri artistic director

A frequent soloist with Seicento, Balestrieri served as assistant director for the past year

By Peter Alexander May 7 at 1:40 p.m.

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Amanda Balestrieri. Photo courtesy of Seicento Baroque Ensemble

Seicento Baroque Ensemble has appointed Amanda Balestrieri as artistic director for the coming season.

No official announcement has been released, but the news appeared in the form of “A Note from our Artistic Director” on Seicento’s Web page that was signed by Balestrieri.

A soprano who is known for her skill performing early music, Balestrieri succeeds Kevin T. Padworksi, who was appointed director one year ago. Balestrieri has been a frequent soloist with Seicento, and has served as the group’s assistant director for the past year. She will be the group’s third artistic director.

Nancy Lillie, president of Seicento’s Board of Directors, said via email that Padworksi “resigned because unforeseen personal obligations arose and he needed to free up time to attend to them. The Seicento board understood his dilemma and we had an amicable parting.”

Balestrieri is currently out of the country and unavailable for comment. She wrote on the Seicento Web page, “I am delighted to accept the role of artistic director for Seicento Baroque Ensemble and an looking forward to a fabulous eighth season.”

In the same message, Balestrieri announced the topics for two concerts next season: “Baroque Pairings: Voices and Violins” in November and “In Your Court: A Royal Tour” in March. Both programs will be performed in Denver, Boulder and Longmont.

A native of England, Balestrieri received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in modern languages from Oxford University and studied voice in London and Milan. She sang with the Academy Chorus of St. Martin in the Fields under Sir Neville Marriner and was a soloist in contemporary music with James Wood’s New London Chamber Choir. After moving to the U.S., Balestrieri appeared with the National Symphony under Leonard Slatkin and Sir Christopher Hogwood. She has also performed with the American Bach Soloists, Smithsonian Chamber Players, Washington Bach Consort, and the New York Collegium.

She has appeared with the Colorado Symphony and most of the early music organizations in Colorado. She is currently affiliate professor of voice at Regis University in Denver, where she has directed the Regis University Collegium Musicum.

Seicento was founded by Evanne Browne, who remains with the organization as artistic director emeritus. She returned to Boulder in March to conduct a program titled “Mad Madrigals.”

Exploring a new realm, Seicento offers “silly entertainment” March 16–18

Artistic director emeritus Evanne Browne returns to lead “Mad Madrigals

By Peter Alexander March 16 at 2:48 p.m.

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Evanne Browne

Evanne Browne, the artistic director emeritus of Seicento Baroque Ensemble, has returned to Colorado to conduct performances by Seicento Baroque Ensemble, the group she founded in 2011.

The program, titled “Mad Madrigals,” is one Browne had partially planned last year, before she left Seicento. After Browne moved from Boulder at the end of last season, Kevin Padworski was appointed to succeed her as artistic director.

When Padworksi was unable to conduct the concert scheduled for this weekend (March 16–18), Brown came to the rescue, flying from the east coast to take over leadership of performances scheduled in Denver, Boulder and Longmont. She will share the conducting duties with Amanda Balestrieri, Seicento’s associate artistic director.

In addition to the full Seicento chorus, members of the ensemble will be featured as soloists and in smaller groups. Additional musicians will be Paul Holmes Morton, theorbo; Sandra Miller, Baroque cello; Gerald W. Holbrook, harpsichord; Linda Lubeck, recorder; and Steve Winograd, recorder, pipe and tabor, and Morris bells.

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Seicento Baroque Ensemble

The program is well outside the usual repertoire of Seicento in the past, which has focused on major choral works of the Baroque period. The anchor work on the program, filling most of the second half, will be Festino nella sera del giovedì grasso avanti cena (Fête for the evening of Carnival Thursday before supper), a “madrigal comedy” by Adriano Banchieri.

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Adriano Banchieri

This is the most famous of the many madrigal comedies written around the year 1600, including several by Banchieri. Like all madrigals, they were written to be sung by amateurs as informal entertainment, often after dinner, and they are generally filled with comic vignettes poking fun at social conventions and stereotypes.

“This is definitely silly entertainment,” Browne says. “I had come across Il Festino a number of years ago. To come across a set of things that are just plain silly, like the madrigal comedies are, was a way to balance what Seicento usually does. It’s very funny.”

For example. Brown mentioned one of Banchieri’s madrigals that has become popular among fans of Renaissance music: Contrapunto bestiale alla mente, or “The Animals sing in counterpoint.” Browne explains: “There is counterpoint for animal sounds. The (text) is ‘bau, bau,’ which is what the dogs say in Italy, and ‘miau, miau,’ and ‘chiu’ and ‘cucu, cucu,’ and the madrigal part is that it has a ‘fa-la-la’ chorus.”

It is the second half of the program that is filled with the silly madrigal comedies. The first half is a survey of madrigal and other informal vocal styles from around the 16th century. “There are some very, very beautiful pieces in the first half,” Browne says. “It will be musically sophisticated on the first half, very comic the second half.”

Musica TrasnsalpinaThe madrigal started as in-home entertainment in Italy but it was spread to England in 1588. In that year an important book, Musica Transalpina (Music from across the alps), was published in London containing Italian madrigals with their texts translated into English. This started a craze for madrigals in England.

“The first half of the program is a view of madrigals starting out with Thomas Morley’s “Sing we and Chant It,” and the Italian version of that (from) Musica Transalpina, which got everybody intrigued and enamored by what was happening in Italy. We’re also doing some music by Monteverdi and Barbara Strozzi, who has become much more well known recently because she’s a female composer.”

Other works on the first half of the program include Gagliarda XI and a Prelude-Passacaglia pair by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger for Chitarone (a bass lute also known as theorbo), which will be performed by Morton; a 15th-century French drinking song; and madrigals by Giles Farnaby, Jacques Arcadelt, and Luca Marenzio.

Browne stresses that the program touches only a tiny part of the madrigal repertoire. “In one account I read, there were 40,000 madrigals published before 1630!” she says.

“This will be entertainment, in a way we don’t know how to do any more—where you’re at home and pull out your madrigal books and sing one of the 40,000 madrigals! So the audience should be prepared for a completely different concert than we have done before.

“It’s going to be lots and lots of fun”

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“Mad Madrigals”
Seicento Baroque Ensemble
Evanne Browne, artistic director emeritus and conductor
Amanda Balestrieri, associate conductor

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St, Denver
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17, First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder
3 p.m. Sunday, March 18, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 805 3rd Ave., Longmont

Tickets

2017: The Year in Classical Music

Some outstanding concerts, and some changes of leadership in Boulder

By Peter Alexander

With the year drawing to a close, it is time to look back at 2017. It has been a tumultuous year in many realms, including some aspects of Classical music. But before that, it is good to remember the outstanding musical experiences of 2017 here in the Boulder area.

Pro Musica

The year began on an expressive high point when Pro Musical Colorado Chamber Orchestra, conductor Cynthia Katsarelis and soloists Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, soprano, and Ashraf Sewailam, bass, presented Shostakovich’s rarely-heard Symphony No. 14.

I wrote at the time: “This somewhat gloomy meditation on death is not often given live, partly because of the difficult assignments facing the soprano and bass soloists, but mostly because of the difficult subject matter. But it is a major statement from a great composer—what Katsarelis calls ‘a piece that needs to be heard’—and so the rare performances are to be treasured.”

The February visit of Deborah (Call Me Debbie) Voigt to Macky Auditorium will be a cherished memory for fans of the classical voice. Voigt Lessons, the superstar soprano’s candid retelling of her struggles with relationships, substances, and weight that clouded her career not only showed some realities of life at the top of the opera world, it also revealed the very human person beneath the superstar image. For both reasons, this was a meaningful event.

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Takacs Quartet

The Takacs Quartet always provides some of the year’s best performances. It’s hard to chose just one, but for 2017 I would single out their February concert including Beethoven’s Quartet in G major, op. 18 no. 2—performed while the Takacs was in the midst of a full Beethoven cycle at several venues—and CU music faculty Daniel Silver, clarinet, playing the Brahms Quintet in B minor, op. 115. An especially beautiful rendering of this beautiful work had at least one audience member in tears by the end.

March saw the arrival of another superstar in Boulder when Sir James Galway played at Macky Auditorium, and the departure of an important member of Boulder’s classical music community when Evanne Browne gave her farewell concert with Seicento Baroque Ensemble, the organization she founded in 2011.

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Boulder Phil at Kennedy Center

One of the biggest events of the year for Boulder performing arts was the visit in March of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Michael Butterman and Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Company to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the first annual Shift Festival of American Orchestras. The Phil repeated a concert they had given in Boulder a few days earlier, including the world premiere of All the Songs that Nature Sings by Stephen Lias and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, performed with Frequent Flyers.

An audience favorite of the festival, the Boulder Phil played to a sold out house. Butterman wrote the next day, “It was a peak experience for me, and, I think, for all of us at the Phil. . . . To be there with our orchestra, with that crowd and with that repertoire—it was something I shall never forget. We had a great sense of pride in representing our hometown.”

Several important changes of personnel were announced for Boulder classical scene in the spring. In April, Jean-Marie Zeitouni announced that he was stepping down as music director of the Colorado Music Festival. He will remain with CMF as principal guest conductor, and conductor/violinist Peter Oundjian will serve as artistic advisor for the 2018 season. Later the same month, James Bailey left his position as music curator of the Dairy Arts Center, to be replaced by Sharon Park.

Elliot Moore at Lake McIntosh - credit - Photography Maestro (1)

Elliott Moore

In May, Seicento Baroque Ensemble announced the appointment of Kevin T. Padworksi as artistic director, succeeding Browne, and the Longmont Symphony announced the appointment of Elliot Moore to succeed long-time music director Robert Olson.

The same month, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra wrapped up its 2016–17 season with its largest performance to date, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony presented in Macky Auditorium. The performance under conductor Bahman Saless was unfortunately the occasion of a protest by the anti-fracking group East Boulder County United. Seven members of EBCU blew whistles, shouted slogans and left flyers before the concert to voice their opposition to the orchestra having accepted a contribution from Extraction Oil & Gas.

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Olga Kern, photographed by Chris Lee at Steinway Hall.

Zeitouni proved to be anything but a lame duck conductor at the Colorado Music Festival. The 2017 season started at the end of June with an all-Russian program featuring exciting performances of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. On the same concert, one of Boulder’s favorite guest artists, pianist Olga Kern, gave scintillating performances of Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Other high points over the summer included the return of CMF’s founding director Giora Bernstein to lead a concert of Mozart, Zeitouni conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as the CMF centerpiece, and the visit of violinist Gil Shaham at the end of the summer season. Up in the mountains, Central City Opera’s Downton-Abbey-inspired Victorian-era production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte was one of the year’s highlights for opera lovers.

Another delight for the opera crowd came in the fall, with the CU Eklund Opera Program’s serio-comic production of Lehar’s Merry Widow. In November, Saless and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra returned to its core repertoire with a lively concert featuring two youthful works for smaller ensemble: the Concerto for piano, violin and strings by the 14-year-old Mendelssohn, with violinist Zachary Carrettin and pianist Mina Gajić, and Janáček’s Idyll for Strings.

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Carrettin and Gajic

Carrettin and Gajić were featured performers in December when the Boulder Bach Festival gave one of its most intriguing and adventurous concerts in its increasingly adventurous schedule. With guest artist Richie Hawley, the program offered insight into the instruments and performance practices of the early 20th century, performed on Hawley’s 1919 Buffet clarinet, Gajić’s 1895 Érard piano, and Carrettin’s violin set up with strings typical of the period.

 

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For the classical music world outside of Boulder, the biggest news was certainly the intrusion of a long-overdue reckoning for sexual misconduct that is going on in our society generally. The first bombshell, not unexpected by people in the business but a bombshell nonetheless, landed Dec. 3 with the suspension of conductor James Levine from the Metropolitan Opera and other organizations, including the Boston Symphony and the Ravinia Festival. Accusations against Charles Dutoit, artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, surfaced later in the month.

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James Levine

Both conductors are in the twilight of long careers. Rumors about Levine have been widely known in the classical music world; indeed I first heard them in the 1980s. Every music journalist I know has heard the same stories, but so far as I am aware, no one who experienced Levine’s assaults was previously willing to speak publicly. In the case of Dutoit, I had not heard the rumors, but I do know one of the women who spoke publicly about what happened to her, and I believe her unquestioningly.

As the controversy has swirled about the subject of sexual abuse, harassment and assault in classical music, several critics have written powerfully about the subject: Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Jennifer Johnson of the Guardian, Andrew Riddles of Classical Ottawa to name three. Singer Susanne Mentzer has written about her personal experiences in the opera world for the Huffington Post, as has Dan Kempson for Medium.

There are certain to be more revelations. One major journalist has more first-hand information, with names including some of the of the most famous classical artists, and is preparing an article. I have no doubt that several men are nervously awaiting that story, or some other revelation that reveals past misdeeds.

Will this tidal wave reach Boulder?

It’s hard to say with certainty. I have spoken with many on the classical scene here, and the only rumor I have heard, from several sources, has been of inappropriate comments and behavior by one person, none of which reached the level of abuse or assault. “He might not have been hired today,” one person speculated, but as so often happens, the people who heard the comments preferred not to make an issue of it.

Another person told me he had never heard any rumor from the College of Music, so Boulder may escape the worst of this necessary but unhappy process. In the meantime, it is my wish for 2018 that society in general and the music world specifically create a safe environment, where powerful men do not feel free to behave like adolescent boys.

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Edited for clarity 12.31.17

Seicento Baroque Ensemble appoints new artistic director

Kevin T. Padworski will succeed founding director Evanne Browne

By Peter Alexander

Seicento Baroque Ensemble, a Boulder-based choral organization specializing in the music of the early Baroque period, has appointed composer/conductor/organist Kevin T. Padworski to succeed Evanne Browne as artistic director.

At the same time Amanda Balestrieri, a soprano who is well known for her early music performances, has been selected as assistant conductor of the group.

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Kevin T. Padworski has been appointed artistic director of Seicento

Browne founded Seicento in 2011 with the goal of “performing worthy but rarely heard music of the early Baroque musical period,” their Web page states. Under Browne’s leadership the auditioned choir has employed historically informed performance practice and period instruments in their performances.

In a statement released by Seicento, Browne praised the choice of Padworski as artistic director, saying, “Seicento is honored to have a musician of this caliber lead our group into the future.”

“Evanne clearly has kind of established a little bit of a legacy here in Colorado,” Padworski says. “I’m following an incredible woman in her field, and I’m excited to work on the repertoire. I’m excited about being able to perform Baroque repertoire up to historically informed performance practice.”

The transition has been made easier by planning that already taken place for the 2017­–18 season. Themes have been selected for two concerts during the year. “The fall theme will be ‘Luther to Bach,’ and that can mean a whole bunch of things,” Padworski says. “That’s really exciting because Luther’s influence was widespread in Europe, so that leaves a lot of composers available to explore.

“Then in the spring they had established a theme called ‘Mad Madrigals.’ It gives us a breadth of madrigal repertoire from a couple of centuries. As I look at that, my initial reaction would be to try to make that as broad as possible.

“I see it as a privilege to work with and collaborate with the people in the ensemble, and to offer music to greater Boulder.”

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Amanda Balestrieri will be assistant conductor of Seicento

Balestrieri has been a frequent soloist with Seicento, most recently for Browne’s last performances with the group March 24–26. She worked closely with Browne and the ensemble over the past six years, and has also appeared with the Boulder Bach Festival, Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, and other performing organizations in Colorado.

“I think it’s going to be a really good collaboration,” she says of her role working with Padworski as assistant conductor. “Kevin’s skills are huge. He’s a singer and a conductor and a keyboard player, and he has energy and wonderful musicianship. What I bring is how to technically execute some of the more difficult parts of the early music style, and a much longer experience in the early music movement.”

Padworski is a doctoral student in choral conducting at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is artistic director of the Colorado Chorale and director of music and organist at Calvary Baptist Church in Denver. He is the composer of both choral and instrumental works, available through MusicSpoke and Santa Barbara Music Publishing.

He performs as an organist, singer, pianist and harpsichordist with an interest in early music. He has appeared professionally with the Jubilate Deo Chorale and Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Colorado Choral Arts Society, Colorado Symphony, Colorado Symphony Chorus, Colorado Children’s Chorale, Opera Colorado and American Baptist Churches USA, among other organizations.

Padworski holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Eastern University, a certificate in leadership from the Foundations program at Duke Divinity School, and a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.  He has been a conducting fellow with the Sarteano Chamber Choral Workshop and with Chorus America.

Evanne Browne says farewell with Handel

Seicento performs two early psalm settings composed in Italy

By Peter Alexander

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Seicento Baroque Ensemble

Over the weekend—Friday to Sunday, March 24–26—Evanne Browne will conduct her farewell concerts with Seicento, the Baroque performing group that she founded only six years ago.

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Evanne Browne

The program comprises entirely music by Handel, including settings of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus, and Psalm 117, Laudate Pueri. Both are set for choir and soloists with strings and will be accompanied by a small orchestra of period instruments, including harpsichord and small organ. There will also be sections of secular cantatas to fill out the program. Performances will be in Denver, Boulder and Estes Park (see below for details).

“It’s my last concert, but it’s the beginning of a new energy with Seicento,” Browne says. “We’re financially sound, we’re finishing the sixth year, and we’ve been well received. People say, ‘oh, that’s your baby,’ but the baby has grown up and is ready for a new influence.”

Interviews have already been held for a new director and auditions will be conducted next week. Browne said the board hopes to announce the new director in April.

Browne moved to the Washington, D.C., area, where she had lived and worked before coming to Boulder, in September and has travelled back to Colorado for all the Seicento’s concerts this year. In the meantime, she has been singing professionally and teaching in the D.C. area since her move.

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Amanda Balestrieri

She picked the program for the concert before she knew it would be her last with Seicento, but the choice is appropriate. “I have known Dixit for along time and wanted to do it,” she says. “Dixit is one of his most incredible choral pieces, and both pieces are chorally flamboyant, and difficult choral singing. If you think Messiah has lots of runs, Dixit is that times two or three.”

The second Psalm setting, Laudate Pueri, was pointed out to Browne by Mark Alan Filbert, who has served as musical director in Browne’s absence this year. Both pieces were written in 1707, when Handel was 22. He was living in Rome, where the Pope had banned opera but sacred music filled the void. Roman choirs of the time seem to have been particularly capable, which explains the difficulty of the music in both Psalm settings.

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Kathryn Radakovitch

While living in Italy, Handel “was influenced by Corelli and other Italians,” Browne says. “He was into an Italian expressiveness, which is so much about word painting and florid vocal lines. And the crunchiness of the dissonances is very Corelli-like. He took that style into his later works, his operas and his oratorios, but I think he’s really exploring the craft here.”

The two Psalm settings do not quite make an hour of music, so Browne selected movements from three of Handel’s cantatas to fill out the program. She chose them, she says, because they contain music that the audience will recognize—the original versions of melodies that appeared later in Messiah.

“People will recognize [the tunes],” she says. “One is ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born,’ and the other is ‘And He shall Purify.’ It’s great fun to hear these Italian texts and especially the Messiah melodies that we know so well in their original form. It’s so familiar but it’s so different.”

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Barbara Hollinshead

Soloists for the performances will be sopranos Amanda Balestrieri and Kathryn Radakovitch and tenor Todd Teske, all from the Boulder area, and mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead who performs in Washington, D.C. There will also be short bass solos from members of Seicento.

“We have fabulous soloists,” Browne says. “There are two duets and one solo cantata, and the women who are doing the cantatas—oh my gosh, they can sing runs, and beautifully! It’s going to be a lot of fun to hear that.”

Just six years ago, Seicento became one of the first historical performance groups in the Boulder area. “When I first came to Boulder, there was very little Baroque vocal music going on, and a little bit of Baroque stringed period-instrument music,” Browne says, pointing out how much more there is now. “I am very, very proud of this organization and the way it has been managed,” she says.

“I’m grateful and I’m excited for the future of Seicento.”

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Seicento Baroque Ensemble
Evanne Browne, artistic director and conductor
Sopranos Amanda Balestrieri and Kathryn Radakovitch, mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead and tenor Todd Teske

Handel: Dixit Dominus and Laudate Pueri
Selections from Italian secular catnatas

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 24
St. Paul Lutheran Church & Catholic Church, 1600 Grant. St. Denver

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25
First United Methodist Church, 2412 Spruce St., Boulder

2 p.m. Sunday, March 26
Stanley Hotel Concert Hall, 333 east Wonder View, Estes Park

Tickets