Harpsichord Heroics


with Byron Will, Harpsichord Maker and Byron Schenkman, Harpsichordist 

Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman will be performing in PBO’s concert, Leclair, Rameau, and the Age of Enlightenment on April 6, on a very special instrument created by Byron John Will. Below is the story of the beautiful instrument and how it came to grace our stage!

Byron Schenkman said of the concert, “As a harpsichordist I find French harpsichord music the most satisfying to play—this is the repertoire that really makes the most of the instrument’s rich sonority. 18th century French style harpsichords such as the one we’ll be using for this concert are especially delicious, with lots of variety of color and rich, resonant low notes.” He continued, “We’re lucky that Byron Will, one of the great harpsichord builders of our time, lives in the Portland area and is able to provide us with such a great instrument for this concert!”

18th century Paris was a bustling center of music creation, performance, and harpsichord making. There were no less than 80 harpsichord makers in Paris at the time of Rameau. Many composers could simply walk from their homes to the workshops and play the completed instruments from various makers. 
 
Arguably, the most famous family of builders was the Blanchet family. François-Etienne Blanchet carried on the traditions of his father Nicolas, building new instruments as well as rebuilding and enlarging Flemish harpsichords. As harpsichord maker to the king, his instruments were in high demand. François Couperin even owned a Blanchet harpsichord.
 
Regrettably, there are only four of François-Etienne Blanchet instruments left to us today. One harpsichord Byron Will has always been attracted to is a double manual (two keyboard) harpsichord Blanchet built in 1746 at the Versailles Chateau. It was restored in the late 1960s by Claude Mercier-Ythier. 
 
In 1986, after Will received a commission for a French harpsichord they chose to copy the 1746 Blanchet, with its clear singing and strong voice, and rich bass. They decided on a mid-18th century inspired black exterior and Chinese red interior, with gold bands with a  Louis XVI style stand, with turned, fluted legs.
 
However, in late 2017 Will received an email from his original client, stating he was moving his family to Washington and as the instrument needed some work done he decided to give it back to the maker saying Will  could keep the instrument or eventually find a good home for it. 

After recently completing a Flemish double harpsichord commission, Byron Will restrung his client’s Blanchet copy with a wire developed by Stephen Birkett, who is reproducing the wire used in the 18th century. The plucking material is sea gull and pelican.
 
Will said, “Having this wonderful gift in my home is a grand addition to my life-long study of French harpsichord music, and, additionally, for this harpsichord to be used in performances of this wonderful and elegant music.” 

Messiah Puns

When you’ve been presenting Messiah for as long as we have, you get to know the text pretty well. In honor of this time honored tradition, we’ve put together a few fun puns from Messiah leading up to this weekend’s performances! We even asked fans for their favorite including:
• Our winner - ...come for tea my people, saith your God.
• Lettuce break their bonds asunder.
• His Coke is easy, but his burden is Sprite.

There are still tickets available for this weekend’s concerts, although seats are going QUICKLY!

Check out our Facebook page for more punny Messiah pictures!

Owed to Joy

by Holly Stern (pictured!)Holly Stern

Hard to believe it’s been 16 years since I wrote the last Baroque Enquirer. [Check out all of Holly’s newsletters here!] PBO was a mere teenager then. Now it’s time to celebrate the orchestra’s 35th birthday.

It’s time to get HIP!

I know, I know. Most of you are already hip to HIP, and that, too, bears celebrating.

HIP stands for Historically Informed Performance, which sounds fairly daunting and perhaps even a bit boring. But, in fact, it is what PBO has always done and which you have been enjoying since your first concert with us. (Now, doesn’t that make you feel positively brilliant?)

HIP is the use of instruments like the ones Baroque composers wrote for. It’s an exploration into what never made it onto those pages of music, but which the performers of the day knew to do. And it’s just plain fun.

What, inquiring minds want to know, makes it so much fun? The list could be long, but this article should be short, so I’ll just get the discussion started.

My favorite reason is the constant sense of discovery. Since Baroque composers rarely notated whether something should be played loud or soft, short or long, whether the phrase moves toward this note or that, much was left up to the performers. Which provides ample opportunities for a fresh approach. There have been years when we played Handel’s Messiah on four consecutive days, and each one was different, made so by the raised eyebrow or other body language of the conductor/harpsichordist. To have the director trust you to adapt on the spot, in front of an audience, is a heady feeling. As is the joy of discovering new possibilities in a well known work.

Monica Huggett, PBO’s Artistic Director, is a master of interpretation. She can play a phrase so convincingly you’re sure that is The Way it should sound. Then she’ll stand the phrase on its head, and you’ll say, “Oh, wait. That’s the way it’s supposed to go.” And the next day, she’ll . . .

Time out here to relay a favorite anecdote. Several years ago, Ton Koopman, director of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and a generous mentor and guest artist with PBO, was conducting a major modern symphony orchestra. Now, Ton, like Monica, loves to delve into a work’s possibilities, something apparently unappreciated by the reviewer, who took him to task for “micromanaging” the orchestra. The print went something like, “These musicians know their Beethoven symphonies. All you have to do is get them started, and they can take it from there.” Yawn. Please note, this is (thankfully) by no means the universal approach in modern orchestras. But with HIP, the joy truly is in the details.

In my 30 years as a violinist with PBO, this has always been the absolutely best time of year: the opening of a new season. Just think of all the delectable concerts you have stretching out before you. As you listen to this all-Vivaldi concert, take note of the word painting which is sure to be embedded in the vocal pieces. Bask in the nuances and energy, as the orchestra brings the instrumental works to life.

With all this in store, don’t you feel just a wee bit sorry for your friends who perhaps suffer from baroqueophobia? The ones who think they’d be bored silly at a concert of 17th- and 18th-century music? Now is your chance to do a Good Deed. Bring them with you. I still remember one of my students telling me about her mother’s reaction at a PBO concert. The poor woman must have braced herself for tedium, because partway through, she leaned over to her daughter and said, “This is Baroque music??? I like this!”

Your turn to spread the word. The PBO experience truly is owed to joy. And if you tell your friends that, they will think you’re bringing them to a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, and they’ll be hooked before you know it.

October Flash Sale!

Get $25 tickets in any section to any of our Vivaldi: The Red Priest, The Poet or Telemann in Paris concerts when you use the code 25for25 at checkout! The sale only lasts for the first 25 tickets claimed for each series, so secure your seats now:

Vivaldi: The Red Priest, The Poet

Fri Oct 19, 7:30pm
Sat Oct 20, 7:30pm
Sun Oct 21, 3:00pm


 

Telemann in Paris

Fri Oct 26, 7:30pm
Sat Oct 27, 3:00pm


 

The Leipzig Audition

FRI MAY 4 & SAT MAY 5 7:30PM
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
SUN MAY 6 3:00PM
KAUL AUDITORIUM

When the composer and writer Johann Kuhnau died in 1722, he left a vacancy for one of the most prestigious musical jobs in Germany, that of the Thomaskantor in Leipzig. The position was demanding, entailing the organization of services at the city’s four Lutheran churches as well as the provision of music for municipal and university functions; duties included composing, copying, teaching, auditioning, rehearsing, and performing. Naturally, the town council sought Germany’s most well-reputed musician, and offered the job to Georg Philipp Telemann, who then occupied the equivalent position in Hamburg, but Telemann declined after the authorities there raised his salary. They then turned to Kuhnau’s student Christoph Graupner, the Hofkapellmeister of the court of Hesse-Darmstadt, but he too secured a raise and a renegotiation of his contract, and stayed put. Finally, they settled on their third choice, Johann Sebastian Bach, who spent the remainder of his career as Thomaskantor until his death in 1750.

At the time, diverse styles were converging in the late Baroque, with the proliferation of sheet music and the increased mobility of composers and players around Europe. Few figures exemplify the trend better than Telemann and Bach (and of course their colleague and contemporary Georg Frideric Handel). Telemann spent a short time in his mid-twenties in Poland and later spent several months in France; like Bach, he also absorbed the Italian style spreading northward. He was adept on a wide range of instruments, from keyboard to strings to various winds (including the oboe) and his familiarity with them informed the technical and tonal aspects of his composing.
Telemann
Among Telemann’s vast oeuvre in many genres are 135 orchestral suites for a wide variety of ensembles, mostly composed in Frankfurt, where he spent his thirties as Kapellmeister of the Baufüßkirche and city music director. Like the others catalogued as TWV 55, the Ouverture-Suite in A Minor follows a mostly French model, with a stately overture followed by a set of short movements, some derived from dance forms; in this case they include Louré (a slow gigue), Bourée, Rondeau, the exuberant La Réjouissance, and a Menuet and Trio. Also from Telemann’s time in Frankfurt comes the Concerto in E Minor (TWV 52:e2) one of a set of six scored for two transverse flutes, a bass instrument (bassoon or lute), strings and basso continuo. It exemplifies the confluence of styles in his music: formally, it follows the Italian sonata da chiesa, with four movements organized slow-fast-slowfast and including a fugal second movement (here with a Polish inflection). The opening features a limpid melody in the French style, the finale is a menuet en rondeau, and the work overall demonstrates Telemann’s balance of easy, charming tunes with driving, thrilling virtuoso passages.

At around the same time that Telemann was writing much of his chamber and orchestral works, Bach did likewise. For almost six years beginning in 1717, he served as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, a music enthusiast ten years his junior who maintained an 18-member orchestra. As the court was Calvinist, Bach was free of obligation to compose all but the most basic church music, and he produced many of his best-known secular works there, including the Brandenburg Concertos. The survival rate of his orchestral music is regrettably low, and the Concerto for Two Oboes and Bassoon, though sometimes called “rediscovered”, is a speculative reconstruction based on later material. His musical recycling is well-known, and the sinfonia of Cantata 42, composed for the Sunday after Easter in 1725 in Leipzig, is believed to be based on a lost work from his time in Cöthen.

The concerto uses that sinfonia, another from the Easter Oratorio, and the alto aria from Cantata 42; the later work would have involved adding text for church use, so the reconstruction puts the process in reverse. Given the Eastertide use of the music, and Bach’s mastery of religious symbolism, it’s tempting to hear the sacred pieces in the concerto. The opening movement sets the strings and solo group in separate themes that then coalesce, and in the central movement, to which Bach later applied the text “Where two or three are gathered together in Jesus’s name” the solo group of oboes and bassoon (perhaps representing the two Marys and Jesus in the cantata) similarly unify. The joyous concluding movement—the sinfonia from the Easter Oratorio, also used in an earlier secular cantata—offers the solo group in brilliant accord.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
While Bach was in Leipzig, he enrolled his oldest son Wilhelm Friedemann at the Thomasschule, and son followed father in church work, including an early stint in Dresden, where instrumental music was incorporated into the Mass. He composed the Adagio and Fugue in D Minor as a Gradual, an interlude following the Epistle. Solemn, even haunting, the opening movement features ethereal slow melodies over subtle strings with exquisite suspensions; it leads directly into a tightly woven fugue, with faster rhythms and brighter textures bringing a bit of spryness and light.

As for Graupner himself, he was a friend of Telemann and Handel and equally celebrated in his day. He spent most of his career as Hofkapellmeister at Darmstadt, where he composed prolifically, but his work fell into obscurity after his death, partly owing to a legal dispute between his family and the court that kept it unpublished and out of the public ear for many years. This program provides an opportunity to rediscover him via the Ouverture in G Minor (GWV 471), which displays high contrasts and inventive use of instrumental sonorities in a blend of elegance and technical brilliance typical of the great musical confluence of his time.

– James McQuillen

FEATURED ARTISTS


Stephen BardSTEPHEN BARD, OBOE

Stephen Bard has established himself as one of North America’s leading players of historical oboes and appears regularly with preeminent period instrument ensembles including Tafelmusik, Philharmonia Baroque, Portland Baroque, American Bach Soloists, Handel & Haydn Society, and Boston Baroque. His playing, “especially noteworthy for its sensuous lyricism” (Philadelphia Inquirer), has been lauded for “long, amber-tinted lines and pertly articulated phrases” (San Francisco Classical Voice). In demand as a soloist and chamber musician, his playing has been recorded with many of these fine ensembles on the Chandos, Naxos, CBC, and ATMA Classique labels. His festival appearances include the Oregon Bach Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, and at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He holds bachelor degrees in Music and in Computer Science from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music. He is currently based in Philadelphia.

NATE HELGESON, BASSOON

 Nate Helgeson
Nate Helgeson is one of the West Coast’s leading specialists in historical bassoons. Born into a musical family in Eugene, Oregon (his brother, Aaron Helgeson, and uncle Stephen Gryc are both accomplished composers), Nate studied modern bassoon with Steve Vacchi and Richard Svoboda before taking up the baroque instrument, continuing his studies with Dominic Teresi at the Juilliard School.

Now based in Portland, Nate performs on stages large and small throughout North America. In addition to solo and orchestral appearances with premier period ensembles across the country, he can be heard on recordings by Apollo’s Fire, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. Nate was a finalist in the 2016 Indianapolis Baroque Concerto Competition, and in 2012 was chosen to perform at the summer music festival, Dans les Jardins de William Christie, an outdoor festival of 18th century music in the west of France hosted and directed by the eminent French music specialist, William Christie.

Nate loves the diverse sound world of historical bassoons, performing on replica baroque and classical bassoons by the late Guntram Wolf (Kronach), an anonymous original instrument from the 1830s, and a 1960s modern bassoon by Heckel (Biebrich).

JOSHUA ROMATOWSKI, FLUTE

Joshua Romatowski
Joshua Romatowski, flutist, has been praised for his ability to “allow each note to sound with its own expressive qualities” (San Francisco Examiner). Joshua’s playing has been described as “elegantly shaped” (San Francisco Examiner) and possessing “graceful intimacy” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Joshua holds a MM in Flute Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a BM in Flute Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as an Artist Diploma in Early Music from the Cornish College of the Arts. Joshua was a finalist in the National Flute Association’s Orchestral Excerpt Competition and a winner of the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle Frances Walton Competition.

As well as being a prize winner in the National Flute Association’s Baroque Artist Competition, Joshua has appeared in concert on baroque flute in every major city on the West Coast with the American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Byron Schenkman and Friends, Pacific Music Works, and other period ensembles. Joshua currently holds the 3rd Flute/Piccolo chair with Symphony Tacoma and is on faculty at Music Works Northwest. Joshua’s primary teachers have been Timothy Day, Marianne Gedigian, Jeffery Zook, and Janet See.

GONZALO X. RUIZ, OBOE

Gonzalo Ruiz
Born in La Plata, Argentina, Gonzalo X. Ruiz is one of the world’s most critically acclaimed baroque oboists. A member of Portland Baroque Orchestra for over twenty years, he performs as principal oboist and soloist with Philharmonia Baroque, Ensemble Sonnerie, Boston Early Music Festival, The English Concert, Wiener Akademie, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Carmel Bach Festival. He has collaborated with conductors McGegan, Savall, Pinnock, Rattle, Egarr, Manze, Hogwood, and Hassellböck, among others.

Ruiz’s playing is featured on dozens of recordings including his 2010 Grammy™-nominated recording of reconstructions of the four orchestral suites of J.S. Bach, with Monica Huggett and Ensemble Sonnerie. Ruiz was appointed to the faculty of The Juilliard School in 2009. He previously taught at Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute and at the Longy School’s International Baroque Institute. Ruiz is an acknowledged expert in reed design, and examples of his work are on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In his free time he enjoys playing guitar and dancing tango.

JANET SEE, FLUTE

Janet See
Janet See is one of today’s outstanding performers on baroque and classical flute. For over 35 years she has performed as soloist, in chamber music, and in orchestras throughout Europe and North America. In North America, Janet plays principal flute with Philharmonia Baroque, Pacific MusicWorks, Seattle Baroque, and Portland Baroque Orchestra. In London, Ms. See played principal flute for Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s baroque and classical orchestras and with those groups recorded the complete Mozart Operas, Beethoven Symphonies, and numerous other discs.

Janet is an active and enthusiastic teacher of early flutes and also of interpreting the nuance and language of baroque and classical music on modern flute. She is director of the popular Seattle Baroque Flute Summer Workshop, which attracts students from all parts of the United States. Ms. See is a teacher of the FM Alexander Technique, having trained in London with Walter Carrington.

 

PBO Previews Flights of Fantasy on All Classical Portland

All Classical Portland host Christa Wessel presented Monica Huggett and members of the Portland Baroque Orchestra during All Classical Portland’s Thursdays @ Three program on March 8, 2018.

Flights of Fantasy

March 9-11, 2018

Monica Huggett directs a program of early Italian works for strings, lute, and organ. This intimate ensemble will perform the witty Capriccio Stravagante by Carlo Farina, Buonamente’s sparkling Canzon Quarta, and more. The program recreates Monica’s acclaimed Flights of Fantasy recording, chosen by Alex Ross in The New Yorker as 2010’s Classical Recording of the Year.

Il Favorito

Riccardo Minasi, Guest Director

FRI FEB 16 & SAT FEB 17 7:30PM
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
SUN FEB 18 3:00PM
KAUL AUDITORIUM

It is perhaps surprising that the earliest usage of the word concerto in a description of music comes not from the secular or instrumental realm, but is rather used to describe sacred vocal music. The phrase ‘a concerto’ is found in a publication of motets where instrumental doubling of the vocal lines is described, a practice known more commonly as colla parte. We see the term used first in Rome around 1520, and by 1565 there is evidence that it has come to mean music which is accompanied (rather than doubled) by instruments. Concerto comes from the Latin concertare [to contend, dispute, debate] and rather than a specific reference to a soloist, the sixteenth century meaning merely notes a division within the performing forces. Initially this division was between singers and instrumentalists, but during the seventeenth century its usage evolved to describe the division between a small group of performers [concertato] and the full/tutti group [ripieni]. Around the middle of the seventeenth century we begin to see two categories of sacred music composition, namely the stile pieno [tutti throughout] and the stile concertato [soloists juxtaposed with the full ensemble]. The latter served as the model for nearly all choral-orchestral composition from Handel to Bernstein.

The instrumental concerto, as we now know it, came into being during the last two decades of the seventeenth century, chiefly developed in Rome and Bologna. The characteristics of the genre are derived largely from the instrumental sonata, including a three-movement fast/slow/fast structure, dialogue between the solo line and accompaniment, and a prominent display of virtuosity. Antonio Vivaldi, the most prolific and acclaimed composer of this genre, wrote over 500 concerti and nearly 450 of those compositions survive. Of the extant works, over 200 were written for solo violin, with bassoon coming a distant second at 39. Vivaldi, though he was in demand as a virtuoso violinist, opera director, and composer, spent 37 years as the director of music at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, a convent and conservatory for orphaned girls. Many of his compositions were written for, and performed by members of this community.

The Concerto for Violin in C Major RV 181a is one of the twelve pieces published as Opus 9 in 1727. The two-volume collection, titled ‘la cetre,’ was dedicated to Emperor Charles VI. La cetre can be translated as ‘scepter’ or ‘lyre,’ and musicologists have speculated that the dual meaning was intended as an acknowledgment of the Emperor’s great influence as both political leader and musical patron.

Like Vivaldi, Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello was a composer and virtuoso violinist. Born in Bologna around 1690, he came to fame in 1715 when the Electress of Bavaria brought him from Venice to Munich as a violinist. In 1716 he was promoted to music director of chamber music at the Württemberg court in Stuttgart. Duke Eberhard Ludwig valued a strong Hofkapelle, and spent freely to acquire some of the most talented musicians from around Europe. Brescianello’s surviving works are mainly violin sonatas and concertos. The Concerto for Violin and Bassoon in B-flat Major comes from his only published work, the twelve Concerti e Sinphonie Op. 1, published in Amsterdam in 1727.

The opening movement of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Bassoon in F Major RV 485 oscillates between the stately motives of its opening tutti, and a somewhat playful tone which is introduced by the bassoon. The beginning of the Andante returns to the solemn feeling of the first movement and is amplified by the solo part. The tutti of the final Allegro molto eventually returns to the light-hearted feeling from the opening movement and the concerto ends with a joyous turn.

While Vivaldi’s fame casts a shadow over the other composers on this program by modern standards, Baldassarre Galuppi enjoyed an equal amount of fame during the eighteenth century. Known as one of the most important opera composers of the mid- eighteenth century, he is partially responsible for the success of comic opera in Italy and beyond. Galuppi’s career benefited directly from Vivaldi’s death in 1741. Up to that point he had found little success in the opera world, but in the year following Vivaldi’s death two successful productions, Oronte and Berenice appeared. These successes directly led to an invitation to travel to London, where he supervised eleven opera productions over the next year and a half, including four of his own works. His return to Venice coincided with arrival of the comic opera, which had been gaining popularity in Naples and Rome for some time. Galuppi was successful at adapting these works for the Venetian audience, and the remainder of his life was spent adapting and directing operas [both comic and serious] in Venice, Milan, Prague, and Dresden. Charles Burney, the famous chronicler of music history, remarked that Galuppi was an impressive orchestra leader and that the orchestra at St. Marks whom he regularly conducted was the most skilled in all of Italy. The opening of Concerto a quattro, with its stately dotted motive, followed quickly by a fugue-like section, resembles the opening of an opera overture.

Giovanni Mossi is yet another composer known in his own time as a virtuoso violinist. He hails from a Roman family of musicians, father and brother being viola players, and another brother who was a tenor at the papal chapel. Up until 1715 Mossi appears mainly as a violinist at private chapels of cardinals and princes around Rome. The period between 1716-33 shows a shift in focus to composition. During this time, he published three sets of sonatas, and three of concerti. His Concerto grosso in E Minor Op. 4 No. 11 remains faithful to the Roman practice of having four violin parts, two of them solo and two ‘di concerto grosso.’ Even so, the first violin part is given a more important role as the chief soloist, a sort of concerto within a concerto.

Lorenzo Zavateri was born in Bologna and received training as a violinist and composer with Torelli, one of the pioneers of concerto composition in the late seventeenth century. Zavateri played with the orchestra at San Petronio in Bologna and was a member of the famed Accademia Filarmonica. His Concerto Pastorale in D Major, Op. 1 No. 10 is so named because the final movement is a traditional pastorale dance, in 12/8.

This program ends with Vivaldi’s famous Concerto in E Minor RV 277, ‘Il Favorito.’ This concerto the second of a set of six presented to Emperor Charles VI in 1728. A year later the set was published in Amsterdam as Vivaldi’s Op.11. The nickname was not originally attached to the piece, but as many have noted, this concerto stands out for its brilliant fast movements framing a sublime andante. Sadly, Vivaldi’s fate was tied to that of Charles VI. After many years in hopes of entering the service of the Emperor, Vivaldi moved to Vienna in 1740 while in the process of securing a position. Charles VI died suddenly in October of 1740, and Vivaldi’s source of income and security died with him. The great composer died, in poverty, less than a year later.

—John K. Cox

Riccardo Minasi

Riccardo Minasi, guest director and violin

Described by the Guardian as “an outstanding musician”, conductor and violinist Riccardo Minasi has quickly established a reputation as one of the most exciting talents to emerge on the European scene in recent years.

Having been Associate Conductor of the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra from 2008 - 2011, Minasi co-founded the ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro in 2012 and has worked in several of the top opera houses across Europe. Last season’s highlights included Don Giovanni for Opernhaus Zürich and Iphigénie en Tauride for Hamburgische Staatsoper. Minasi is returning to these opera houses in 2018 with productions of Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Alcina respectively.

Alongside being Chief Conductor of Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, this season’s conducting and directing engagements include debuts with PRJCT Amsterdam, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Orchestre du Chambre de Lausanne, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and NDR Radiophilharmonie. This season also sees Minasi returning to work with Stavanger Symfoniorkester, Ensemble Resonanz and La Scintilla.

Minasi has a wealth of recording experience alongside the world’s top artists, having recorded with the likes of Joyce DiDonato, Ann Hallenberg and Philippe Jaroussky. The 2016/2017 season saw Minasi feature on four ECHO Klassik award-winning albums, one of which included his ‘Leonardo Vinci: Catone in Utica’ with Max Emanuel Cencic (Opera Recording - 17th/18th century music category). Minasi’s own recordings gain critical acclaim, with his Biber Rosenkranz Sonatas featuring as a finalist in the Midem Classical Awards. 

His performances are steeped in musicological integrity, and he has acted as historical advisor for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, as well as curator and editor (alongside Maurizio Biondi) of the 2016 Bärenreiter critical edition of Norma. Minasi was a professor at Vincenzo Bellini of Palermo for six years, and has given historically informed performance lectures and master classes at world renowned establishments such as the Juilliard School and the Sibelius Academy.

As soloist and concertmaster, Minasi has performed with the likes of Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Accademia Bizantina, Il Giardino Armonico, Le Concert des Nations, Al Ayre Español, Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla and Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid; and collaborated with, amongst others, Veronika Eberle, Bryn Terfel, Franco Fagioli, Jean –Guihen Queyras, Victoria Mullova, Reinhard Goebel, Luca Pianca, Christophe Coin and Albrecht Mayer.

Handel’s Messiah - A Portland Tradition

COMPLETE ORATORIO
FRI DEC 8 7:30PM
SAT DEC 9 7:30PM *
SUN DEC 10 3:00PM *
About three hours in length

MESSIAH HIGHLIGHTS
MON DEC 11 7:30PM
About two hours in length

* Saturday and Sunday are sold out for online purchases. Call Monday-Friday for limited GA and single ticket purchases.

Messiah is arguably the most-performed work in all of musical history, and with good reason. As reported in Opera News in May 2017, Paul Agnew will conduct and sing the tenor role in this year’s production, adding another dimension to the Messiah experience.

Meet The Artists

Paul Agnew

Paul Agnew

Paul Agnew is in continuous demand as an outstanding interpreter of the baroque and pre-classical repertoire. His long association with the world’s leading conductors in the field of early music includes a discography of over one hundred recordings. Born in Glasgow, he was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford before embarking on an acclaimed vocal career that has taken him throughout the world.

His transition to a conducting career began following a highly successful debut with Les Arts Florissants in Paris in 2007, when William Christie appointed him Joint Musical Director of the orchestra; he has since gone on to lead the orchestra on tour to major venues such as the Wiener Konzerthaus; throughout France; and to Salzburg, China, and Lincoln Center in New York City. He made his London debut as conductor with the same ensemble at the Barbican as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations. Paul Agnew succeeded Christophe Rousset as Music Director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes Baroque in 2009 and he is actively engaged in the training and preparation of the next generation of specialist instrumentalists. Paul Agnew is also the co-director of the academy for young singers, Le Jardin des Voix. He has conducted performances of Messiah for Le Concert d’Astrée and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Handel’s La Resurrezione at the Atelier of the Opéra national de Paris. He made his opera conducting debut with Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor at the Opéra de Rennes.

As Joint Musical Director of Les Arts Florissants, he continues to present the complete cycle of Monteverdi Madrigals in concert. Spread over nearly 100 concerts, this monumental project continues into 2017/18. The first recording to have come from the project, entitled “Mantova” (released on the Les Arts Florissants label) received high critical acclaim. The Guardian gave 4 stars to the second recording “Cremona”, and Gramophone magazine selected it for the “Editor’s choice” of its July 2016 issue. The CD has been also awarded the “Choc du mois” by the specialized music magazine Classica. Volume three, “Venezia”, was released in February 2017 and represents the completion of the project.

Agnew’s comprehensive discography includes “Lamentazione” – on which he conducts Les Arts Florissants choir in works by Scarlatti and Caldara for Virgin, “The Food of Love – songs by Purcell” for Ambroisie, Sally Beamish’s In Dreaming for Virgin Classics, Rameau’s Dardanus for ABC, and Dowland songs for Metronome. On DVD, his performances include Les Boréades and Les Indes galantes on Opus Arte, Lully’s Armide, the Bach B Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion, and his celebrated performance as Platée on TDK.

Jakub Józef Orliński

Jakub Józef Orliński

Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, Grand Finals winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winner of the 2015 Marcella Sembrich International Vocal Competition, is quickly gaining a reputation as a singer of striking vocal beauty and daring stage craft.

In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Orliński will make his house and role debut at Oper Frankfurt as Handel’s Rinaldo, and will join Festival d’Aix-en-Provence on tour to sing the role of Orimeno in Cavalli’s Erismena at the Château De Versailles and Festival de Saint-Denis. Concert appearances include a tour of Handel’s Rinaldo as Eustazio with The English Concert led by Harry Bicket, a performance of Vivaldi’s music with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, and Handel’s Messiah with the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He will make his Wigmore Hall recital debut in the summer of 2018.

Mr. Orliński has performed with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Houston Symphony, Musica Sacra, and Oratorio Society of New York. His engagements have taken him to Carnegie Hall, Karlsruhe Handel Festival, and Leipzig Opera House.

Mr. Orlińsi earned his Master’s degree in vocal performance at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and his Graduate Diploma at The Juilliard School.  In his spare time, he enjoys breakdancing, in addition to other styles of dance. Jakub Józef Orliński is an exclusive Erato/Warner Classics recording artist.

Christin Price

Christine Taylor Price

Soprano Christine Taylor Price earned her Masters degree in vocal performance at The Juilliard School, and is now a second year Artist Diploma candidate in Opera Studies. In 2017, she performed Serpetta in Juilliard’s production of Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and made her Opera Columbus debut singing the role of the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.  Ms. Price also performed Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at Opera in Williamsburg as well as the soprano solo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony under Maestro Edward Gardner at The Juilliard School. In 2016, she sang Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, was a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was a featured soloist in a gala performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream under the baton of Maestro Alan Gilbert. Also that season, Miss Price made her Carnegie Hall debut as soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.  In 2015, she performed Lucien in The Ghosts of Versailles, and covered the role of Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist. Christine has been featured in masterclasses with Joyce DiDonato, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Fabio Luisi.

Alex Rosen

Alex Rosen

Bass Alex Rosen, a native of La Cañada, CA, is a second year candidate for the Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the Juilliard School, studying with Edith Wiens. Prior to his arrival in New York, he was twice a Studio Artist with Wolf Trap Opera and a Fellow at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute. With Juilliard415, he sang under William Christie, in concerts including excerpts from the operas of Rameau and Monteverdi’s Il ballo delle ingrate. With the Juilliard Orchestra, he sang as the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and the role of Dikoj in Juilliard’s production of Kát’a Kabanová. This season at Juilliard, he will sing the roles of Sir John Falstaff in Die Lustige Weiber von Windsor, and Thésée in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie. Additionally, this season, he will sing Handel’s Messiah with Portland Baroque Orchestra and Houston Symphony Orchestra, the role of Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea with Cincinnati Opera, and Haydn’s Creation and Händel’s Acis and Galatea with Les Arts Florissants.

Cappella Romana

Cappella Romana

Its performances “like jeweled light flooding the space” (Los Angeles Times), Cappella Romana is a vocal chamber ensemble dedicated to combining passion with scholarship in its exploration of the musical traditions of the Christian East and West, with emphasis on early and contemporary music. Cappella Romana’s name refers to the medieval Greek concept of the Roman oikoumene (inhabited world), which embraced Rome and Western Europe, as well as the Byzantine Empire of Constantinople (“New Rome”) and its Slavic commonwealth.

Founded in 1991 by music director Alexander Lingas, Cappella Romana presents a robust annual concert series in Portland and Seattle, and is regularly engaged by Portland Baroque Orchestra as its principal chorus, and by the Seattle Symphony for special projects. It frequently tours in Europe and North America, having recently made its second appearance at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the largest event of its kind in the world, two tours to the Festival of Wallonia in Belgium, and in Germany for the 600th Anniversary of the Council of Konstanz.

Its most recent tour in Europe featured a program of music for the Rite of Hagia Sophia at the Iaşi Byzantine Chant Festival in Romania, and will appear in the Orientale Lumen Festival in Budapest, Hungary, in June 2018.

The ensemble has released over 20 compact discs, including two recent titles that debuted in the top 10 Classical Recordings on Billboard.

Since 2010 Cappella Romana has been a participant in the research project “Icons of Sound: Aesthetics and Acoustics of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul” at Stanford University. The ensemble’s next recording, made at Stanford, will feature medieval Byzantine chant from Hagia Sophia imprinted with the acoustics of that great cathedral.