Performance: The Hilliard Ensemble’s 40th Birthday Party

hillard ensemble11 December 2013 – Spitalfields Music Winter Festival 2013

Trust the Hilliard Ensemble to organise their fortieth anniversary concert on a date of numerological significance; I’m sure Josquin and his contemporaries would have appreciated the gesture! The anniversary programme spanned both the history of Western music and the history of the ensemble, beginning with plainsong antiphons for advent interwoven with polyphony from Josquin, Victoria and Nenna all performed with that magical vocal blend.

In 40 years there have been only nine full-time Hilliards, eight of whom were reunited for this concert (Paul Hillier having another concert to perform in). Hearing the singers together offered an opportunity to reflect on the special timbres of each voice and how they have all contributed to the overall style of the group. In particular, it was fascinating to hear John Potter and Paul Elliott singing the two tenor parts in Byrd’s Decendit de coelis, both sounding fabulous.

The programme also featured music from the very first Hilliard Ensemble concert, Britten’s Journey of the Magi and, characteristically, a new work by Roger Marsh for all eight of the singers: Poor Yorick. Marsh’s score was by turns witty and complex with an extended middle scene for the current Hilliard members framed by an eight-voice reflective chorus. It was a long text, set quickly and wittily, obviously with the deftness and clarity of the Hilliard Ensemble in mind. The singers’ voracious appetite for new music was evident as they performed it with both the precision of the Andrews Sisters and a palpable sense of mischievous enjoyment. Having promoted much new music over the years it was a fitting way to end their concert and in its own way it stole the show.

Perhaps it is this juxtaposition of old and new that has made the biggest contribution to the ongoing freshness and relevance of these performers?  The Hilliard Ensemble is a masterclass on how to age with style.

Ed Breen

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© Early Music Today 2013

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Musicians to be featured on PRI holiday program

early music

From left: Stanley Ritchie, Rachel Gries, Alice Baldwin, Shelley Taylor and Martie Perry at St. Christophers Episcopal Church, Carmel, Indiana, on November 9, 2013 during a recording of Christmas music for the PRI program, Glad Tidings of Great Joy.

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Linsdey McClennan, Zachary Arneson and Christina Lynch at St. Christophers Episcopal Church, Carmel, Indiana, on November8, 2013 during a recording of Christmas music for the PRI program,Glad Tidings of Great Joy.

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BBC Radio 3 Music Matters

Paul Elliott, a founder member of British vocal group The Hilliard Ensemble, features in an interview on BBC Radio 3′s flagship classical music magazine program, Music Matters, airing on December 7.  The Hilliard Ensemble celebrates its 40 year anniversary this December and Elliott will perform with the group in three concerts to be given in London, Paris and Munich on December 11, 12 and 13.

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Alumnus Bernard Gordillo (MM ’04) in Nicaragua

BernardGordillo_headshotBernard Gordillo has continued to research Nicaraguan music history in Managua, working closely with the National History Institute of Nicaragua (IHNCA), after returning from his Fullbright year in Nicaragua. This summer, Gordillo was appointed an Associate Researcher of IHNCA.

This September, Gordillo performed as a solo harpsichordist at the 10th Annual Festival of Classical Music, hosted by the Rubén Darío National Theater in Managua after being invited by Ramón Rodriguez. This December, Gordillo will lecture on Nicaraguan music history at IHNCA. He will also work with the Alliance Française of Managua, which includes a solo photography exhibition entitled “One Year in Nicaragua,” consisting of images during his Fullbright year, and a three-city recital tour of Baroque repertoire with violinist Brigitte Ley.

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MUSIC REVIEW- IU Baroque Orchestra

IU Baroque Orchestra and Voice Cabaret: Contrasting concerts both audience-pleasers

By Peter Jacobi

Sunday was time for period performance and vocal fun: the first fall outing of the Indiana University Baroque Orchestra and the annual Voice Cabaret.

The Baroque Orchestra’s director, Stanley Ritchie, undoubtedly did the training for its outing, but on this afternoon occasion, he made no appearance on stage, either as conductor or lead violinist. Instead, he sat, watched, and listened to his musicians as a student violinist, Vanessa Castillo, led the ensemble. She did right well in giving the cues and setting the pace for works of Handel and Rameau in Auer Hall.

A sprightly Handel overture, to the opera “Tolomeo,” opened the program. The opera deals with Tolomeo’s (Ptolemy’s) harrowing but ultimately successful quest to become king of Egypt. The music is brisk and delightful; so was the orchestra’s treatment of it. Textures were clean and the reading jaunty. Handel sprightliness continued to be featured in a fine performance of his Concerto grosso in D Minor, an immensely lyrical and rhythmically vital piece.

The Handel paved the way for a Suite comprising music from “Les Indes galantes” (“The Amorous Indies”), an opera-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau. To listeners at the work’s 1735 premiere, much of the music was considered harmonically jarring and noisy. The French soon changed their minds. For modern ears, the music entices with its beauty and the variety built into its essence. Dance it also does suggest, a fact that the Baroque Orchestra took to heart and provided gracefully in its performance.

A sing fest

Annually, members of the IU Jacobs School of Music vocal faculty gather themselves and their talents for an event that serves to raise funds for the local chapter of the National Association for Teachers of Singing. They did so once again Sunday evening in First United Church, offering a large and effusively friendly audience excitement and fun.

The musical fare at these events varies from pop to opera. Master of ceremonies Brian Horn and the participants added humorous commentary. There were cheers for everyone. There were standing ovations for some. And most who came to listen left with a smile. What more can one ask for?

The world of musicals and the Great American Songbook was well represented.

Heidi Grant Murphy, with husband Kevin Murphy at the piano, wrapped herself in torchy emotions for an excerpt from the score of “Most Happy Fella.” Horn, accompanied by Brian Eads, contributed “I’ll Be Seeing You” with his melting tenor.

Patricia Stiles, with David Ward-Steinman at the piano, sang an intimate “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and a saucy “Nice Work if You Can Get It.”

Sylvia McNair, always the consummate performer, added “Everybody Says Don’t” and, with Scott Hogsed, “You Must Meet My Wife” from “A Little Night Music”; Ray Feldman was at the piano.

The warmth-exuding Marietta Simpson and pianist Steve Zegree collaborated for “Lover, Come Back to Me.” Zegree then joined a spare-no-energy-or-enthusiasm practitioner, Tim Noble, for a rousing Cole Porter medley.

Alice Hopper heroically stuck to opera, singing the dramatic “Io son l’umile ancella” from Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur, with Gary Arvin her partner at the keyboard. Teresa Kubiak and Carlos Montane supplied some roof-raising fervor in a heated duet from Puccini’s “Tosca.”

Horne turned serious for a spell in remembering the late Gloria Davy, a dramatic soprano who served on the IU voice faculty from 1984 to 1997, and to celebrate a Kennedy Honor given to Martina Arroyo, who retired from the Jacobs School in 1997 as distinguished professor after a 14-year stay.

© Herald Times 2013


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Message from the Director of EMI – September 2013

elliott1As I write this, I am conscious that many changes are occurring in the world of higher education.  Within the EMI, the question of what the future of our small department will look like after Professor Michael McCraw and I retire in May 2014 is uppermost in our minds.  The EMI is in the process of crafting a vision for the future that will, I believe, place IU and the Jacobs School of Music at the educational cutting edge of modern Historical Performance.  Watch this space for further details!

Meanwhile the EMI plans an action-packed year, with the IU Baroque Orchestra joining forces with the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis in December for two performances of Handel’s greatest oratorio, Messiah.  The EMI’s Bloomington Bach Cantata Project began its fourth year and its 19th performance with BWV 26: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.  This cantata, with its somber but hopeful message, was offered as an appropriate tribute for the life of our late and much-loved colleague, baroque oboist Washington McClain.  As always there will be 6 period-instrument cantata performances over the academic year under a wide variety of directors, and this enriching Sunday afternoon ritual continues to gain in popularity.  In November, members of the baroque orchestra will perform Handel’s oratorio Esther under the baton of choral conductor William Gray.  The Five Friends Master Class Series will see two EMI-sponsored visits: in January by the London Haydn Quartet, and in February by the doyen of cornetto players and 17th-century music specialist, Bruce Dickey.  The EMI’s students will also feature in a Public Radio International Christmas special, which we will record in November, and which will be broadcast nationwide.  February sees members of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra return with their artistic director, Barthold Kuijken, to administer the annual IBO/EMI concerto competition.  Around these major events, there will also be much to enjoy in our regular round of concerts and recitals ­- I guarantee it!

In academics, IUJSoM undergraduate majors on “modern” instruments and in Voice continue to be able to take a challenging 15-credit Minor in Early Music as part of their degree, and the EMI continues to offer an Outside Field MM of 6 credits for graduate majors, which requires at least one performance practice course as well as private lessons.  A little known fact is that, in common with all departments in the IUJSoM, non-EMI graduates may opt for a full 12-credit Minor in Early Music by taking extra courses beyond their degree requirement. This allows those who take advantage of this option to build a more secure foundation for a future professional career in music. A 12-credit DM minor with further coursework, as well as lessons on every period instrument we cover, and in Voice, is also offered.

In research, the EMI continues to oversee a series published by Indiana University Press: Publications of the Early Music Institute. Recent releases include Stanley Ritchie’s: Before the Chinrest — A Violinists’ Guide to the Mysteries of Pre-Chinrest Technique and Style, and Barthold Kuijken’s reflections on Early Music and Performance Practice: The Notation Is Not the Music. October 2013 will see the release of Lawrence Bennett’s: The Italian Cantata in Venice, and in Spring 2014 Joan Benson’s: Clavichord for Beginners will be available.

Focus Recordings, the recording label of the Early Music Institute, plans to produce more recordings shortly. Downloads, through an agreement with CDBaby, are likely to become another way to obtain and enjoy this rare and interesting series of recordings which can be bought through the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music website Marketplace.

I am pleased to report that we continue to have adjunct faculty to teach baroque flute, early oboe and clarinet, baroque trumpet and cornetto, and early trombone, as well as fortepiano and harpsichord adjuncts assisting our full-time teacher, Elisabeth Wright.  The EMI relies on our part-time faculty in a way not duplicated elsewhere in the IU Jacobs School of Music.  Together we are able to flesh out the performance teaching and the courses offered by our six full-time faculty members in voice, harpsichord and fortepiano, violin and baroque ‘cello, baroque bassoon and recorder, viols and medieval strings, lute and, with Richard Seraphinoff, natural horn.  Details of all our academic and performance activities are on our web site.

There will continue to be many challenges ahead for us in our mission to “make old music new again”.  As ever, I am optimistic that we are up to the task!

[Paul Elliott’s Home Page] [Back to the Early Music Institute]

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Review: Weekend concerts pay tribute to oboist Washington McClain

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer


A pair of weekend concerts paid homage to the late Washington McClain, a much-admired Baroque oboist who taught in IU’s Early Music Institute and served as principal oboe in several of today’s leading period instrument ensembles.

McClain died unexpectedly last February, leaving a rich legacy of students now working in the profession as well as recordings that bear testimony to his instrumental brilliance. Students and colleagues remembered him with a Memorial Concert in Auer Hall Saturday evening and also the latest program in the ongoing Bloomington Bach Cantata Project on Sunday afternoon at St. Thomas Lutheran Church.

Saturday’s event was deprived of an Indianapolis contingent of musical friends because of illness. And, most unfortunately, a technical glitch prevented two of McClain’s recorded performances from being piped through Auer. But there remained plenty of music for the audience, which included a host of non-performing colleagues and friends, to catch the spirit of both a memorial and a celebration.

The distinction was noticeable from the start when an ensemble created for this concert, the Washington McClain Memorial Oboe Band, paired James Paisible’s mournful, stately “March: The Queen’s Farewell” with Martin Hotteterre’s more festive “L’air des hautbois.” The band later added somber music of Jean-Baptiste Lully and, to end the concert, an amusing period take on Max Steiner’s Theme from the film “A Summer Place.”

Esteemed McClain colleagues, violinist Stanley Ritchie and harpsichordist Elisabeth Wright, paid their respect impressively with Bach: the Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1014. Wright also offered three of Jean-Henri d’Anglebert’s “Pieces de clavecin,” including a Galliarde that, in her hands, seemed to make the harpsichord weep. Again in contrast, oboists Annie Corrigan and Vivian Ferrillo joined with Jennifer Kirby on English horn for a joyful reading of two movements from Beethoven’s Opus 87 Trio in C Major.

Sunday’s Bach cantata event, the 19th in the series, focused on “Ach, wie fluchtig, ach, wie nichtig” (“Ah, how fleeting, ah, how like nothing”). Gathered were notable performers, including director and violinist Stanley Ritchie along with four splendid vocal soloists: from the Jacobs School faculty, tenor Paul Elliott and alto Mary Ann Hart; from the school’s student body, soprano Lindsey McLennan and bass Daniel Lentz. Among the instrumentalists were three oboists paying tribute to both Bach and mentor McClain: Geoffrey Burgess, Jennifer Kirby and Meg Owens.

The cantata was thematically well chosen for this particular occasion, the words of the closing chorale noting (in translation by the Cantata Project’s lecturer Daniel Melamed): “Ah, how fleeting, ah, how like nothing are humankind’s things! Everything, everything that we see must fall and pass away. He who fears God remains forever.” One could infer the hope or belief that the mortal Washington McClain has gained immortality, “remaining forever” because of his strength of faith.

© Herald Times 2013

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Maarten Bout named Executive Director of IndyBaroque Music, Inc

maartenboutIndiana University Jacobs School of Music alumnus Maarten Bout (P.D. ‘06) has been named as the new Executive Director of IndyBaroque Music, Inc., parent organization of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra.

Originally from the Netherlands, Bout earned his degree in performance as a Fulbright Scholar at the Jacobs School of Music. He brings a wealth of experience to his new position with over 15 years in arts administration. Bout joins IndyBaroque Music, Inc. after five years as Associate Executive Director of the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, IN.

Read the full story here


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IU Students, Faculty and Alumni Return to China for Performance at Prestigious International Conference

Sacabuche-Press-Photo-400IU Jacobs School of Music alumni, students and faculty member Paul Elliott will return to China later this month with the award-winning sackbut and vocal ensemble ¡Sacabuche! to perform at the International Convention of Asia Scholars in Macau, China. The conference will welcome over 1000 participants from 45 countries. In addition, the group will perform a second program of Venetian and Viennese music at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Originally formed at the Jacobs School, ¡Sacabuche! specializes in the early Baroque repertoire of the seventeenth century. The group will present a multi-media performance, including music, art, and history entitled Matteo Ricci: His Map and Music. Ricci was a Jesuit missionary who travelled to China from Italy in the late 16th century and created the first full map of the world in Chinese, presented to the Wanli Emperor in 1608. The program reanimates the cultural exchange between Italian Jesuits and Chinese literati during this time.

“We are excited to return to China with this exciting program,” said Pearse, leader of the ensemble, who is now assistant professor of brass at Mount Allison University. “The program combines music and dramatic readings, along with a digital version of Ricci’s world map. We’re excited to share some of the ensemble’s creative process and performance with scholars from around the world.”

A copy of the Ricci map is held at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. Ann Waltner, professor of history and director of the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, created the text and is one of the performers who will read the text.

¡Sacabuche!’s performance is the featured cultural event on the conference program and will be held at the Venetian Hotel, one of Macau’s most noted performance halls. The work incorporates traditional Chinese instruments in addition to baroque ones, and will engage students of the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing for this performance.

¡Sacabuche! performs lesser-known repertoire of baroque trombones, organ and voice. The ensemble is noted for its dedication to creative and engaging interpretations of early Baroque and late Renaissance masterpieces and a willingness to explore multi-genre works. In addition to the Chinese performances, the ensemble has toured extensively across North America. For more about the ensemble, visit

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Music Review Jacobi (HT) ‘VENUS AND ADONIS’ 1681 opera a rarity

Opera/masque from 1681

In Auer Hall the previous evening, the IU Baroque Orchestra and vocal soloists, astutely guided by Nigel North, performed “Venus and Adonis,” a work labeled by its composer, John Blow, “A Masque for the Entertainment of the King.”

The 50-minute piece, first given at the court of Charles II in Oxford, retells the legend of the immortal Venus and the mortal Adonis, their love affair, his departure for a hunt and fatal wounding by a wild boar, his death in her arms.

Soprano Kathryn Summersett and baritone Kevin de Benedictis handled the embraces and Blow’s expressive music with persuasive determination. Soprano Claire Daniels fit her portrayal of Cupid genially into the mix. A four-member chorus and the Baroque Orchestra complemented and completed the soloists. With the knowing North as their trainer and conductor, Blow’s score was capably served. One might, however, have wished for additional stage direction to make the action more compelling.

On listening to this less familiar opera/masque, a product of 1681, one recalled what came just eight years later, Purcell’s tragedy of two other mythical lovers, “Dido and Aeneas.” Ah, what a difference: Purcell’s work of genius has transcended time; Blow’s has become a curiosity, worth more as a historic reference to a monarch’s court life and musical taste than as a work of stature. Still, this reviewer was appreciative of exposure to a rarity.

Copyright: 2013

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