Students and faculty play with Baroque Ensemble

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the Lawrence University Baroque Ensemble held a Faculty recital in Harper Hall in which they performed various pieces by great Baroque artists, such as Italian composers Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi and German composer Georg Philipp Telemann.

The violin and viola section of the LU Baroque ensemble is comprised of freshman Maddy Brotherton; seniors Hallie Hilleman, Rachel Wittkopp, Berritt Goodman and Elizabeth Knutowski; and juniors Brandin Kreuder and Nic Bizub. Freshman Allison Brooks-Conrad plays cello, while junior Maximillion Simmons provides the double bass and the harpsichord is played by Chamber Music Ensembles coach Carol Leybourn. Faculty members in the ensemble included Lawrence Professor of Bassoon, Carl Rath and Associate Professor of Music Matthew Michelic.

The first piece, Albinoni’s “Sinfonia in G Major,” was performed only by the students. The four violins, three violas, double bass and cello played harmoniously together, and there was plenty of dynamic interplay and tonal highs and lows that made the piece a delight to listen to.

For the second piece, Vivaldi’s “Concerto in E Minor,” the ensemble was joined on stage by Professor Rath and his bassoon. They performed three movements: “Allegro poco,” “Andante” and “Allegro.” “Allegro poco” began with a steady strings opening, of which the bassoon later presents its own version. It also featured quick bassoon lines and solo sections that Rath played with fantastic skill and flair. “Andante,” on the other hand, sounded more somber at first. This changed into a warmer and livelier sound further into the movement, particularly when the bassoon began to play. This movement, in particular, forced the bassoon sound into the limelight and showcased its beautiful sound. The final movement, “Allegro,” was lively as well, but not as lively and upbeat as the first movement. However, there was still plenty of skillful playing and great interplay between all of the instruments, particularly between the violins and violas.

In the final piece, Telemann’s “Concerto in G Major,” the ensemble was joined on stage by Professor Michelic and his viola. Together, they performed the popular piece and its four movements: “Largo,” “Allegro,” “Andante” and “Presto.” The first movement, “Largo,” was both beautiful and mellow, with Michelic’s beautiful viola taking center stage through most of it. The second movement, “Allegro,” featured a distinctive and repeating motif in the beginning that was later played independently in the movement by Michelic. “Andante,” similar to “Largo,” was a mellow and slow movement that largely emphasized the upper notes on most of the instruments. The last movement was fast and exciting and kicked things up a notch.

The recital was followed by refreshments, a typical recital finisher, and the unique addition of a baroque instrument petting zoo in which concertgoers could try out various baroque instruments, such as a baroque recorder, among others.