LSM Newswire

Friday, January 15, 2010

Boston Baroque Performs its Grammy-Nominated Interpretation of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610

Saturday March 6, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.

Boston Baroque, the first permanent Baroque orchestra in North America, will perform Monteverdiĺ─˘s masterpiece, the Vespers of 1610, under the leadership of music director Martin Pearlman, on Saturday, March 6, 2010.  The performance will take place within another masterpieceĺ─ţthe Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.  With its extraordinary beauty and scale, the Cathedral will provide a dramatic setting for the Vespers, which, in its own time, brilliantly exploited the spatial and acoustical possibilities of St. Markĺ─˘s Basilica in Venice.  The performance will mark both the 400th anniversary of the Vespersĺ─˘ publication and Boston Baroqueĺ─˘s first appearance in New York since the mid 1980s (a Carnegie Hall performance of Handelĺ─˘s Messiah under the ensembleĺ─˘s original name, ĺ─˙Banchetto Musicaleĺ─¨).
Tickets for the March 6 concert, at $20, $35 and $55, are available online at and; and from Boston Baroque by telephone at 617/484-9200.

Boston Baroque
Martin Pearlman, conductor
Mary Wilson ............ soprano
Kristen Watson ....... soprano
Derek Chester ......... tenor
Aaron Sheehan ........ tenor
Lawrence Jones ....... tenor
Sumner Thompson ... baritone
Donald Wilkinson ..... baritone

Saturday, March 6, 2010 8:00 PM
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025
Tickets: $20, $35 and $55; available online at and; or by calling 617/484-9200

ĺ─˙The Vespers is a work of extraordinary emotional power,ĺ─¨ declares Martin Pearlman, ĺ─˙astonishing for the grandeur of its conception and the opulence of its sound.  No other surviving work from that period is written on such a scale, combining the grandest of public music with the most intimate of solo songs.  Like the music itself, our performing forces are on a grand scale: seven solo singers; a chorus large enough to divide into anywhere from four to ten voice parts; and an orchestra with a rich variety of instrumental colors, including virtuosic solo parts for violins and cornetti.ĺ─¨

The instrumentation for the Vespers, however, is specified by Monteverdi only in certain movements.  For much of the piece, it is the conductor who determines the orchestration ĺ─ý whether and where to double voice parts with instruments, as well as which instruments to use.  It is also left to the conductor to decide whether to assign certain passages to the chorus or to solo singers.  Thus, the piece can vary greatly from one performance to another. 

Boston Baroqueĺ─˘s recording of the Vespers, in a performing version by Martin Pearlman and under his direction on the Telarc label (catalogue number 80453), received a GrammyČĂ nomination in 1998 for Best Choral Performance; and they have performed the work to acclaim in Boston, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and at the Ravinia and Tanglewood music festivals.

About the decision to perform at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Martin Pearlman remarks, ĺ─˙For our return to New York City, I was looking for an extraordinary venue worthy of this piece, and was really struck with the sense of space at St. John.  I thought it might well reflect the scale and grandeur of the Vespers, and its profound intimacy as well; but the challenge was to make it work acoustically for a Baroque ensemble.  After an initial visit to the Cathedral in which we tried out instruments and voices in various placements, we began to see that we could carve out an intimate performance area in which we will sound warm, clear and big enough without amplification.  This acoustical ĺ─˛sweet spotĺ─˘ is almost entirely within the area that they call the Great Crossing, and will hold an audience of just 700, plus a platform for the performers.  The lighting design will add to the sense of ĺ─˛intimacy within grandeurĺ─˘ that seems perfect for the Vespers.ĺ─¨

The New York performance will be presented as part of the Boston University Incite Arts Festival, a New York showcase for the BU College of Fine Arts and its Schools of Music, Theatre, and Visual Art.  Boston Baroque is the resident professional ensemble for Boston Universityĺ─˘s Historical Performance Program, where it is helping to train the next generation of period-instrument performers.
About Boston Baroque and Martin Pearlman
Founded by Martin Pearlman in 1973, Boston Baroque was the first permanent Baroque orchestra established in North America, and is now widely regarded as one of the worldĺ─˘s premier period-instrument ensembles.  Boston Baroque reaches an international audience with its 20 recordings on the Telarc label, three of which received GrammyČĂ nominations.  The ensemble produces a subscription concert series in Greater Boston, now in its 36th season, and made its European debut in 2003, performing Handelĺ─˘s Messiah to sold-out houses and standing ovations in Krakłäw and Warsaw, Poland.  In addition to its acclaimed Disney Hall, Ravinia and Tanglewood performances of the Monteverdi Vespers, Boston Baroque has performed Purcellĺ─˘s Dido and Aeneas with the Mark Morris Dance Group in Chicago and Ann Arbor.  In 2009, the ensemble made its debut with two programs at the international Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Ricoĺ─ţthe first period-instrument orchestra invited to perform there.  Boston Baroqueĺ─˘s latest recording on Telarc, Mozart: Arias for Male Soprano, featuring soloist Michael Maniaci, was released in January 2010.

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