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Continuo conference and concerts bring the best in early music to Pacific Lutheran University next week.

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on March 28, 2013 at 5:38 am |
March 25, 2013 12:46 pm
Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.
Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.

Early music lovers, rejoice. Pacific Lutheran University is teaming up with the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies (based at Cornell University in New York) to hold its annual spring conference right here in Tacoma/Parkland, with workshops, presentations and no less than five concerts featuring the best in regional and national musicians, all open to the public.

The focus of this year’s conference is the art of continuo – the accompaniment line that underscores all baroque solos, constructed often from just a single bass line with “figures” (numbers indicating chords) to tell the musician which harmonies to play, and leaving the rest up to improvisation, collaboration and musical know-how. It’s tricky to learn, even trickier to do in performance, changing each time (rather like jazz, but 200 years older).

Among the presenters and clinicians are Edward Parmentier (University of Michigan), Charlotte Mattax Moersch (University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana), Gregory Crowell (editor, “Clavichord International”) and Seattle’s Stephen Stubbs (artistic director of Pacific Musicworks). Local students and professionals alike will benefit from the masterclasses, lectures and demonstrations offered next Friday and Saturday in PLU’s music buildings (see westfield.org to register).

But it’s the public concerts that are the real treat for the general public, offering a banquet of early music over five days (beginning next Thursday) from Haydn choral masses to recitals to Handel’s opera “Apollo and Daphne.” Here’s the line-up:

Baroque violinist Ingrid Matthews. Courtesy image.
Baroque violinist Ingrid Matthews. Courtesy image.

April 4, 8 p.m.: Byron Schenkman, harpsichord, and Ingrid Matthews, violin, playing sonatas by Dario Castello, Isabella Leonarda, Georg Muffat and Heinrich Schmelzer; followed by PLU’s Choir of the West with strings and continuo singing Carissimi’s “Historia di Jephte” and Haydn’s “Little Organ Mass.”

April 5, 8 p.m.: Ed Parmentier, harpsichord; Svend Ronning, violin; Jennifer Rhyne, flute; James Brown, tenor and Nathan Whittaker, cello, playing sonatas by Veracini, Handel and Vivaldi, suites by Couperin and Hotteterre, and arias by Viadana, Caccini, Purcell, Bach and Frescobaldi.

April 6, 3 p.m.: Harpsichord recital by Ignacio Prego (early Italian and Spanish repertoire, plus Bach suites.)

April 6, 8 p.m.: Pacific Musicworks with dir. Stephen Stubbs performing Handel’s “Apollo e Dafne” and his newly discovered “Gloria.”

Post-conference performances include a Sunday service at 11 a.m. April 7 including a repeat performance of the Haydn mass, and a 3 p.m. organ recital by Gregory Crowell with works by Sweelinck, Bach, Krebs and Albright.

All performances in Lagerquist Concert Hall, 12180 Park Ave. S., Tacoma. Tickets from $10. 253-535-7787, plu.edu

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