Houston Early Music
Glad Tidings of Joy
co-sponsored by The Religion and Arts Council, Christ Church Cathedral
Christopher Kreuger, flauto traverso
Marc Schachman, baroque oboe
Linda Quan, baroque violin
Myron Lutzke, baroque cello
Arthur Haas, harpsichord
Julianne Baird, Soprano
Guests of Houston Early Music stay at the Park Plaza Warwick Hotel
KUHF Radio is the official radio station of Houston Early Music
This program is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston and the Texas Commission on the Arts
through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County
Glad Tidings of Joy
Concerto in G minor, RV 107 -- Antonio Vivaldi
When Christ was Born on Earth
Shepherds Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep
Cantata Pastorale -- Alessandro Scarlatti
Es ist ein Ros
4è me Symphonie de Noël -- Michel Corrette
Arias from the Cantatas -- J.S. Bach
Ich esse mit Freuden (BWV 84) (1685-1750)
Sü sser Trö st, mein Jesus kommt (BWV 151)
Mein glä ubiges Herze (BWV 68)
Of all the holidays in our western culture, Christmas, more than any other, transcends its religious origins and implications. It has become for almost all of us a time to celebrate; an opportunity to rejoice. Thus it is not surprising that Christmas is the inspiration for an unequaled wealth of musical composition, both vocal and instrumental, secular and non-secular. This body of literature spans all periods of musical history, from the Middle Ages to the present. The spirit of the Christmas season has become such a part of our lives, that the month of December sees easily twice as many concerts as any other month of the year, for the inherent festive quality of music-making has become synonymous with celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is in this spirit that we offer Glad Tidings of Joy, a concert of vocal and instrumental works from the 16th- to18th-centuries, some with obvious references to the Holiday, others with less direct connections, and one work (Concerto in G minor) by Vivaldi, that has nothing at all to do with Christmas and with which we open our program.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) lived in Venice and earned his living teaching at the Ospedale della Pieta, a foundling home for girls. His duties, in addition to teaching the violin, consisted of organizing the spectacular concerts presented by the Ospedale. For these concerts Vivaldi composed hundreds of concerti which ultimately gained him an international reputation as a composer, and which helped crystallize the concerto form throughout Europe. Although smaller in number than his solo concerti, Vivaldi explored the idiom of the "chamber concerto," where instead of a ripieno or "back-up band" the soloists themselves function as the orchestral tutti and then take turns playing the solos. These works are in the traditional three movement mold (fast-slow-fast) with the middle movement typically allowing a certain freedom for improvisation.
The carols on tonights program all date from between 1500 and 1700 (thus some predate the theoretical beginning of the Baroque period and belong in that historical period known as the Renaissance). These works come to us in a variety of sources, and we have chosen to "orchestrate" them, using our baroque instruments , according to our tastes, attempting to capture the affect of each piece in an appropriate manner. Similar performing decisions have been made regarding texts and number of verses, since there are no definitive answers as to the authenticity of any particular version. A recurring characteristic of these carols is the harmonic feature of the drone commonly associated with the bagpipe or musette-instruments that evoke the images of shepherds that have come to be identified with Christmas.
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) was principally a composer of vocal music, both operas and cantatas, and spent most of his career in Naples, where he became known as the founder of the Neapolitan school of 18th-century opera. The Cantata Pastorale per la Nativita di Nostro Signore Jesu Cristo was written to a text by the Cardinal Antonio Ottoboni of Rome, presumably in 1695, and received its first performance on Christmas Eve of that year at the Palazzo Apostolico. Following an opening Sinfonia the cantatas three recitatives and three arias describe the nativity scene in Bethlehem, proceeding from the description of the Holy City to the Virgin Mother to the birth of the infant Jesus. The cantata concludes with the call to the happy shepherds to bring their bagpipes and hasten to the manger to soothe the child with music.
Michel Corrette was a church organist for most of his long life, but that doesnt begin to give an idea of his indefatigable and multifaceted activities on behalf of French music. He was the author of innumerable treatises and tutors for just about every instrument played in his time, from the flute to the double bass. He was a leader in furnishing simple music to bourgeois homes and in supplying brilliant concerti for the burgeoning public concert business. In short, he was Frances leading "popularizer" of music. Perhaps his best known works were his Concerto Comiques, in which the tunes all Paris hummedmany of them first heard at the Opé ra Comique (hence the name)were paraphrased in vivaciously embellished instrumental settings. In a similar vein is a group of six compositions entitled Symphonies en Quatuor contenant les Plus Beaux Noels Franç ois et Etranger avec des Variations. The work we perform tonight includes many of the most lovely and most recognized French carols of the period, along with their dazzling variations.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) needs no introduction to any of us. We all have our favorite Bach works and each of us has different reasons for regarding him as one of historys greatest composers. It is interesting to note, however, that this universal acclaim was not accorded Bach during his lifetime, and that he spent most of his career (and made perhaps his most significant contributions) as a church composer at Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig where he composed a five-year cycle of contatas. It is from this body of works that we choose the arias to close this evenings concert. These works were never intended as concert pieces, but rather as part of a religious observance; although only one of the three arias is specifically about Christmas, all share in the spirit of love and devotion that is associated with this holiday. Ich esse mit Freuden (from Cantata 84) says "I eat with joy my scant bread, and grant to my neighbor from my heart some bread as well " Sü sser Trost, mein Jesus kommt (from Cantata 151, written for Christmas) states: "Sweet comfort, my Jesus comes, Jesus is now born " In Mein glä ubiges Herze (from Cantata 68), the text speaks of "My believing heart, be glad, sing, make merry, for thy Jesus is near "
The singing of Julianne Baird has been described by the New York Times as "artistry of a high order." Considered one of the most distinguished sopranos of our time, Ms. Baird specializes in early music but also explores music of other periods, including contemporary works and 19th-century popular tunes and rags. She has performed on nearly every important artist series and with such major orchestras as the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, the Cleveland Orchestra with Christoph von Dohná nyi, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
In recent seasons, Ms. Baird has sung recitals of Purcell songs, and performed Spanish and Hispanic music with guitarist Eliot Fisk at Carnegie Hall, Handels Messiah with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional in Mexico, Eurydice in Glucks Orfeo, the Bach B Minor Mass with Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center, toured France, Poland, Austria, Germany and Holland in recital, and performed Handels LAllegro ed il pensoroso with the Helicon Ensemble.
She has appeared in London with Christopher Hogwood in Purcells Dido and Aeneas, a work she also recorded for Decca. At Alice Tully Hall in New York, she performed Mozarts earliest opera, Apollo and Hyacinthus. Her operatic experience also includes Handels Ariodante and Pergolesis La Serva Padrona.
Through television, radio and recordings, Ms. Baird has reached a wide audience, often appearing on the BBC Radio in England, National Public Radio and CGS Television in the United States, and in recital on the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and WDR in Germany.
Very active academically, Ms. Baird holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the Eastman School of Music, a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University, and has completed studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1995, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Shenandoah University. Ms. Baird has taught at Princeton University, New England Conservatory, the Eastman School, and the University of Toronto. Currently, she is on the faculty of Rutgers University.
The Aulos Ensemble was formed in 1973 by five Juilliard graduates and in the last twenty-five years has become one of Americas most highly regarded and best known original instrument ensembles. Through its extensive tours, recordings, and radio broadcasts, the Ensemble has achieved worldwide critical acclaim while presenting its own concert series at home in New York City, featuring international guest artists preeminent in the field of historically informed performance. Its unique blend of flute and recorder, oboe, violin, cello, and harpsichord has been termed "scintillating," virtuosic," and "authentic baroque performance at its best" by some of this countrys most respected critics.
Aulos first recording for the Musical Heritage Society, Original Telemann (MHS/Musicmasters), was released in 1981 in connection with the composers tercentenary and was universally hailed as one of the most accomplished and significant observances of the Telemann year, receiving the "Critics Choice" award of High Fidelity Magazine. Since then, the Ensemble has released over a dozen CDs on the same label, including 2 CD sets of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, as well as the complete Essercizii Musici of Telemann (5 CDs). Its latest releases include A Baroque Christmas with the soprano Julianne Baird, and a first-ever recording of a suite from Rameaus opera, Les Indes Galantes in its version for chamber ensemble. In recent seasons Aulos has enlarged its core group of five members to become a small chamber orchestra, performing and recording the larger-scale concerti, suites and sinfonias of Bach and Vivaldi.
At home in New York City, Aulos presented for eight seasons its own concert series which featured some of the foremost artists in the field in collaboration with the Ensemble. Harpsichordists Trevor Pinnock and Albert Fuller, violinists Jaap Schroeder and Stanley Ritchie, cellist Anner Bylsma, oboist Michel Piguet, and vocalists Jan De Gaetani, Bethany Beardslee, and Julianne Baird are among the artists who have appeared.
Each year for the past fifteen seasons, the Ensemble has presented a series of Christmas Concerts in front of the Neapolitan Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, events described by the New York Times as "one of the most charming musical celebrations of the season." Various artists have appeared as guests with the Ensemble in this magical setting, the most recent being the soprano Dawn Upshaw.
The Aulos Ensemble frequently gives master classes and lecture-demonstrations in 17th- and 18th-century performance practice at colleges and universities throughout the country. Its concerts are frequently heard on National Public Radios Performance Today.
Flutist Christopher Krueger received his formative musical training in Boston and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music. He is principal flutist with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, the Bach Ensemble, Smithsonian Chamber Players, and Boston Baroque. He has been featured as soloist on the Great Performers Series and Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, the City of London Festival and Lufthansa Festival in London, the Berlin Bach Festival, and at Tanglewood and Ravinia. Mr. Krueger has also performed with such diverse groups as the Drottningholm Theatre Orchestra, Aston Magna, Tafelmusik, Orpheus, and the Boston Symphony. He has recorded for DG, Sony, LOiseau-Lyre, RCA, and Nonesuch, and is on the faculties of the New England Conservatory, Boston University, and Wellesley College.
Oboist Marc Schachman was born in Berkeley, California and received his education at Stanford University and the Juilliard School where he was awarded the B.S., M.S., and D.M.A. degrees. He has performed as soloist and principal oboe with original instrument orchestras throughout America including Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, and The Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy. He is the founding member of the Helicon Winds, and performs often with groups such as Aston Magna, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Orchestra of St. Lukes, and the New York Chamber Soloists. His recordings can be heard on the MHS/Musicmasters, Harmonia Mundi, Sony, LOiseau-Lyre, and Nonesuch labels, and he is on the faculty of Vassar College.
Linda Quan, violinist, was born in Los Angeles, California, and graduated from the Juilliard School with B.M. and M.M. degrees. She has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble and has served as concertmistress with various American original instrument orchestras including the Handel and Haydn Society, Orchestra of the Old Fairfield Academy, Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, and Mostly Mozart Original Instrument Orchestra. She is a member of the Bach Ensemble, the New York New Music Ensemble, and the Atlantic Quartet, and appears frequently with groups such as Aston Magna, St. Lukes, and Helicon. Ms. Quan has recorded for Sony, LOiseau-Lyre, MHS/Musicmasters, CRI, Nonesuch and Opus One, and is on the faculty of Vasser College.
Cellist Myron Lutzke was born in Newark, New Jersey, and received his education at Brandeis University and the Juilliard School, where he was awarded a B.M. degree. Mr. Lutzke is a member of the St. Lukes Chamber Ensemble, the Mozartean Players, and the Bach Ensemble and is the principal cellist for many of this countrys original instrument orchestras, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Original Instrument Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Lukes. He is an artist-in-residence at the Caramoor Festival and teaches at the Mannes School of Music. His recordings can be heard on the Harmonia Mundi, MHS/Musicmasters, Sony, LOiseau-Lyre, Nonesuch, and Arabesque labels.
Harpsichordist Arthur Haas was born in New York but
grew up in Los Angeles and attended the Juilliard School and UCLA
where he received a Masters degree in historical
musicology. In 1975, he received the highest prize from the 2nd
International Paris Harpsichord Competition and was subsequently
appointed Professor of Harpsichord and Baroque Performance
Practice at LEcole Nationale de Musique in Angoulé me. In 1983, he returned to the
U.S. to teach at the Eastman School of Music and at SUNY Stony
Brook. He has performed with many New York ensembles including
Orpheus and the Orchestra of St. Lukes and has appeared as
soloist at the Mostly Mozart and Caramoor Festivals. Mr. Haas has
recorded for EMI, Harmonia Mundi and MHS/Musicmasters labels, and
has given harpsichord recitals, and master classes throughout
America and Europe.