Published by Angie. Last Updated on May 16, 2023.
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Chatham Baroque is a period music ensemble that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1990 that performs their own concert series in the city, in addition to collaborating with other groups in Pittsburgh and touring around the country and world. Artistic directors Andrew Fouts, Patricia Halverson, and Scott Pauley invite other musicians from around the world to perform with them, making their concerts special and unique.
We were first introduced to Chatham Baroque when they accompanied the opera Idaspe, put on by Quantum Theater in the fall of 2022. I don't think we had ever seen instruments like the viola da gamba or the theorbo played in person before. We were instantly drawn to their unique look and sound, and knew we had to learn more about this interesting ensemble.
Cut to early 2023 and we were able to check out Chatham Baroque play their final concert of the season, The Joy of Bach!
Chatham Baroque Delights with Unique Instruments and Music
Chatham Baroque concerts take place at different venues around the city, including spots such as Calvary Episcopal Church, Carnegie Music Hall, and East Liberty Presbyterian Church, just to name a few. Although Chatham Baroque plays many of the concerts, often with special guests, there are also special concerts featuring other ensembles entirely. In the 2022-2023 season, for example, the Twelfth Night Ensemble and Ensemble Diaglos were just some of the other featured artists.
The Joy of Bach concert took place in Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside, a beautiful venue with resounding acoustics. In addition to the Chatham Baroque artisitic directors, a host of other guests joined, including mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith and Kathryn Montoya on the baroque oboe and obod d'amore.
As you may have guessed by the concert title, this one featured works entirely by J.S. Bach, and was a tribue to local Bach scholar Don Franklin who passed away in 2021.
Bach's Concerto in C Minor started the program. This piece has an interesting history, as the version of this concerto that has been preserved through history is for two harpsichords, although that was likely not Bach's original orchestration. Scholars think that the original version may have been for oboe and violin, rather than two harpsichords, and this is the version that was played for this concert. The interplay between the oboe and violin was the highlight of this piece.
Next up in the program was Bach's Concerto in D Minor, this one for two violins. This piece is one of Bach's more famous works, and it was a delight to hear it performed in person and hear the intricate musical dialogue between violin soloists Andrew Fouts and Emily Eng.
After intermission was Bach's Cantata Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, featuring mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith. This piece with its alternating arias and recitatives was another unique opportunity to hear period instruments such as the oboe d'amore.
It was really a treat to hear Chatham Baroque perform, especially in such a great venue. Even though we have experience ourselves performing in orchestras and other classical music ensembles, it is still somewhat rare to see and hear period instruments like the viola da gamba, theorbo, Baroque guitar, oboe d'amore, and baroque oboe.
It's even more exciting that we don't even have to leave our own city to experience these sounds. We are so appreciative of the artistry and dedication that Chatham Baroque brings to this type of music!
Chatham Baroque plays several events and shows throughout their season. Upcoming show information and tickets are available here. We were guests of Chatham Baroque for this show. As always, all opinions are our own.
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