A Century of Chamber Music
The Portland Early Music Festival is now in it’s 7th year. The theme of the 2018 festival is “A Century of Chamber Music”. Friday and Saturday’s performances both feature music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including works by Mozart and Albrechtsberger. Sunday’s program ranges from Vivaldi’s Trio in G minor (1731) to François de Fossa’s Trio #3 from his Opus 18 (1826).
Friday’s performance showcases Grand Harmonie, led by flautist Sarah Paysnick. Saturday’s program features The Berry Collective, led by fortepianist Sylvia Berry. Sunday’s performance is by Ensalada, a trio composed of violinist Lydia Forbes, ‘cellist Myles Jordan, and Timothy Burris on lute and guitar. Check back soon, as this page will be regularly updated with details of what’s in store for our 7th annual celebration of early music.
NOTE: All performances take place at Woodford’s Congregational Church, 202 Woodford Street, Portland. Each concert will be preceded by a short pre-concert lecture, starting 30 minutes BEFORE the performance start times shown below. Lectures will conclude 10 minutes before concert start to allow for final seating.
Several special events have been scheduled as a lead-up to October’s 2018 Portland Conservatory Early Music Festival.
Torres meets Tárrega: How the Instrument Can Help Make the Music
Friday, July 20th at 7pm
Art Gallery at Diamond Cove, on Great Diamond Island
with Timothy Burris, featured on guitar.
Before Andres Segovia, there was Francisco Tárrega, arguably the founder of the modern school of guitar playing. Tárrega’s playing and compositional style were doubtless influenced by his youthful encounter with an instrument built by the revolutionary guitar builder, Antonio de Torres Jurado. This program features works by Tárrega and others who were exposed to Torres guitars.
Mr Burris will perform the works on a guitar built for him by Richard Berg (Ottawa), a copy of an 1864 instrument presented by Torres to a youthful Francisco Tárrega.
Click for the Summer Ferry Schedule to Diamond Cove (ticket required).
Lecture: How the Early Music Movement changed classical music
Wednesday, August 8th at noon | Portland Public Library
Tuesday, August 28th at 7pm | Lunt Auditorium, at OceanView in Falmouth
(sponsored by the Falmouth Memorial Library)
Timothy Burris, PhD, Festival Music Director
In 1829, Felix Mendelssohn organized and conducted a performance of selections from a forgotten masterpiece, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The concert was a seminal event for what we now call the early music movement, which aimed to revive the music and performance practices of past centuries.
Over time, early music repertoire joined the mainstream. A byproduct of that evolution was that composers and performers began to adopt early music methodologies (and instrumentation) to later repertoires. Mr Burris’s lecture provides an overview of that evolution, from Roger Norrington’s recordings of the Beethoven symphonies to Jonathan Dove’s L’altra Euridice, an opera in one act for baritone and (predominantly) baroque instruments.
Lute and guitar songs of Sweden
Wednesday, August 15th at noon | Portland Public Library
Thursday, October 18th at 6:30pm | Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth
Jennifer Bates, soprano & Timothy Burris, lute and guitar
When we think of European song in the period between 1600 and the early 1800’s, English, French, Italian, and German repertoires come to mind. But usually not Swedish!
Today’s program provides examples of that Northern repertoire. Works range from songs by Andreas Düben, who immigrated to Sweden from Germany around 1620, to period guitar and voice arrangements on texts by Carl Michael Bellman (1740-95). Also included are non-Swedish works of the period drawn from Swedish sources.
The Presence of the Past
Friday, August 24th at noon | Portland Public Library
Friday, August 24th at 7pm | Freeport Public Library
Friday, September 14th at 7pm | Scarborough Public Library
ScheckMate ensemble, Raffael Scheck, ‘cello & Timothy Burris, lute and guitar
When vividly recalled, the past becomes present, not bygone, but by (with) us. The present, likewise, can revive the past, not as a dead reflection but as through a window in time.
In this program, ScheckMate revives music of the past that suggests the future (by Giovanni Bononcini). By way of 19th-century works of transition (including Weber), they complete the circle with contemporary works that suggest the past (including Bachianas Brasileiras #5 by Villa-Lobos).
ScheckMate is made up of Raffael Scheck, ‘cello & Timothy Burris, lute and guitar.
Friday, 26 October, at 7:30pm, in the Chapel of Woodfords Congregational Church
Flutist Sarah Paysnick and Grand Harmonie explore the Flute Quartet in the second half of the 18th century through works by Johann Christian Bach, Ernst Eichner and of course, the beloved Mozart. Short duets will serve as a palate cleanser between the quartet courses.
Saturday, 27 October, at 7:30pm, in the Chapel of Woodfords Congregational Church
The Art of the Piano Trio: Music of Schobert, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven
The Berry Collective explores the rise of this beloved form of chamber music in its many facets. Music for “accompanied keyboard” was all the rage in musical capitals across Europe in the 18th century as an increasing number of women learned to play the newly-popular fortepiano. A burst of piano building and music publishing helped create an environment in which chamber music flourished, and enterprising composers needed to provide an ever-constant stream of works to satisfy these players. Schobert, active in Paris in the 1760’s, was an early master of the genre who influenced Haydn and the young Mozart, who in turn served as beacons for Beethoven. This music really comes alive on the period instruments for which they were written, where balance issues vanish and clarity, fleetness, and intimacy reign.
Sunday, 28 October, at 4:00pm, in Memorial Hall of Woodfords Congregational Church
Ensalada: Chamber trios of the 18th and 19th centuries
Chamber trios, in the 18th century sometimes called ‘concertos’, were a popular genre, and many of them featured the lute. Antonio Vivaldi produced several such works, including RV85 in g minor on this program.
French composers and guitarists, Pierre Jean Porro and François de Fossa, are little known today, but their chamber compositions include the charming trios on this final program of the 7th Portland Conservatory Early Music Festival.
Born Pierre Jean Porre, he italianized his last name (to Porro) as was the custom among musicians in the late 18th century. A French music publisher and composer, Porro was also music master at the ‘Ecole royale et militaire Deffiat’. His publishing activities included music as well as periodic musical works, such as the popular Journal de guitarre.
In his day, François de Fossa was a prominent figure in the early 19th-century guitar world. In addition to his activities as composer and performer, de Fossa translated into French the great Dionisio Agauado’s Escuela de guitarra (Madrid, 1825), as Méthode complète pour la guitare and published in Paris (1826).
Reviews of the 2016 Festival:
From the 2017 festival: