Dear ABO Friends and Supporters,
It’s a fantastic feeling to be celebrating our one-year anniversary as we anticipate ABO’s second exciting season of great concerts. Just over a year ago, we officially established an ensemble of like-minded, energetic musicians dedicated to the cause of advancing the performance of truly remarkable 17th, 18th, and early 19th century music, some of which is well known, and some of which is newly rediscovered.
Last year’s season began with our brilliant soprano Kathryn Aaron singing, “What passion cannot music raise and quell?” from Handel’s Ode for St. Cecelia’s Day. The text was intentional – those were the first words I wanted us all to experience as we began this bold, new enterprise. In addition to Colin Meinecke’s inspired performance of the Telemann viola concerto that followed, we performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with four young, virtuosic baroque violinists on the solo parts, one each per season. And each concerto was prefaced by our own Tuesday Rupp reading the poem that introduces it.
Other highlights of our first season included an early and uniquely researched version of Handel’s Messiah (Annunciation portion), an all-Mozart program featuring baroque violinist Johanna Novom and violist Karina Fox – two truly remarkable players – performing the Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, as well as another concert to collaborate on the Mozart Vesperae solennes de confessore. Each project was a chance to explore great works with renewed insight.
We also grew organizationally by developing a membership program, expanding our crew of volunteers, recruiting a board of directors, and being approved as a corporation in the state of Connecticut. And, as we now apply for non-profit status, we’re moving ahead full speed for another exciting year of growth and great artistry.
Our new season starts with a performance led by baroque violinist, teacher, and scholar Jaap Schröder, who will lead a program of hidden treasures from the 17th century. No one rivals the impact Jaap Schröder has had on the world of baroque performance practice, enabling so many of us to do what we love most. This concert will also debut the American Baroque Singers in works from England and Russia of the same era.
Our season continues with remarkable music, including a fuller version of Handel’s Messiah that favors the earlier and/or alternate versions he composed for the famous Oratorio and traces the image of the Lamb. The gifted Trebles of St Paul’s Choir, Fairfield, will join us. In February, ABO’s dynamic and inspired lead violinist Joan Plana will perform his own variations on the famous tune “La Folia,” as well as the little known and beautifully crafted Violin Concerto in B-flat by Pergolesi. Also on this program will be the deeply moving Pergolesi Stabat Mater, featuring Kathryn Aaron and again the Trebles of St. Paul’s Choir. In May we’ll wrap up the season with “Haydn in Russia.” This project will feature works from the St. Petersburg court and, acknowledging that Haydn was a beloved composer in Russia, his Cello Concerto in C with a truly magnificent player, Jacques Lee Wood.
For this season, as part of our outreach program, we have recruited a group of dedicated volunteer singers to participate in Messiah and potentially other special projects. Also, we are loaning out our set of baroque training bows to students and ensembles to help further an appreciation among area musicians and audiences for the historical performance of baroque music. And, of course, we are establishing the professional core component of the American Baroque Singers, so as to broaden our repertoire and offer our listeners a wider array of musical possibilities.
As you can imagine, a great deal of work, musically and behind the scenes, goes into producing a season like the one we’re embarking on. We welcome you into our endeavors. There are many ways for you to become involved either as a volunteer and/or a member of ABO (see our web site for details), to help build our family of supporters and musicians, and to ensure that truly wonderful music in our region is rediscovered and performed in an historically informed manner infused with creative insight and profound musicality.
But mostly we would like you to get to know us through our performances, in which you, the listener, play a vital role in making this music truly come alive. If you’re not there to interact with us, the endeavor loses meaning. I truly hope, therefore, to see you at our concerts, and that you’ll bring along friends, coworkers, family members – anyone you like. We’re so excited about ABO and we want to share every bit of that with you.
Thanks so much, and don’t forget to say hello when you’re at an ABO event.
Mark Bailey, artistic director
American Baroque Orchestra