Promoting Historically-Inspired Performances of Early Music and Baroque Opera
Only historically-inspired stagings of early opera without modern dancers and acrobats will be listed. Please let me know of any that I have missed.
The Harpsichord Situation in North America
Most harpsichord recitals, whether on modern or antique instruments, sound terrible, for a number of reasons. First, the world is swamped with bad instruments, which include the preponderance of harpsichords for hire. Second, many fundamentally sound instruments are too weakly voiced or adjusted and can barely be heard by the audience. Third, harpsichords often are moved to concert venues immediately before recitals and do not have time to adjust to differences in temperature and humidity. Finally, recital instruments rarely are attended to by first class tuners, and sometimes the tuners are overruled by performers with strange notions about temperament.
Consequently, I will list selected forthcoming recitals in the eastern US that are likely to offer exceptional sound.
The Dumont Concerts
Recitals on the magnificent 1707 Dumont harpsichord and 1635 Ioannes Ruckers harpsichord at the home of the owners, Karen and Peter Flint, near Wilmington, Delaware, have become annual events. Tickets are available from the Delaware Theatre Company, (302) 594-1100, fax (302) 594-1107. See the Brandywine Baroque website for details.
The Organ Situation in North America
While organs based on designs from the baroque era are much easier to find in North America than they were a few years ago, they still represent only a tiny percentage of the pipe organs. Large organs almost invariably are purchased by churches. Unless a church has a forceful music director who specializes in early music, the directors usually select a modern instrument with electro-pneumatic action, electric stops, high wind pressure and equal temperament.
As for small organs, the diversity of "off the shelf" models seems to be improving. The proliferation of early music groups must have led to a significant increase in demand for continuo organs.
The new Craighead-Saunders Organ in Christ Church, Rochester, New York is based on the best preserved northern European organ of the late 18th Century, the 1776 Casparini organ in Vilnius, Lithuania. For details, see issue 2 of Resonance (pdf). A symposium and inaugural concerts was held during October 2008. Brochure (pdf).
The ELPF Bach Organ Project: Taylor & Boody will build an organ after the 3-manual, 53-stop, 1743-46 Hildebrandt organ in Naumburg [photos] for the forthcoming multi-building Constellation Center at Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA (next to M.I.T.). The Constellation Center will also include the Odeon, a baroque opera house with an historical shutter-and-groove scenery system, and a film theater with one of the finest surviving Wurlitzer theater organs.
Another recent Taylor & Boody project is the 35-stop, meantone organ (photo) with split accidentals for the Yale Institute of Sacred Music at Marquand Chapel, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT. Forthcoming recitals: James David Christie, 18 September 2011, 8 pm - Bach, Buxtehude, Böhm, Praetorius, Sweelinck; Martin Jean, 11 December 2011, 5 pm - Buxtehude; Masaaki Suzuki, 21 April 2011, 5 pm - Sweelinck.
The Cornell Baroque Organ project is building a an instrument after the Schnitger organ at Charlottenburg, destroyed by American and British bombers in World War II. Details.
In addition, the Eastman School of Music has installed a newly-restored, historic, full-sized Italian baroque organ in the University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery. An inaugural festival was held in October 2005. Details.