March 4, 2009
Academy of Ancient Music performs Bach's 'Brandenburg' Concertos March 25
The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will present the Academy of Ancient Music, performing Bach's "Brandenburg" Concertos, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, in the Iowa City West High School Auditorium. The performance will feature new Music Director Richard Egarr as harpsichord soloist.
The ensemble will travel to Iowa City directly from its March 23 concert in New York's Carnegie Hall.
A review of an Academy of Ancient Music performance of the "Brandenburgs," with Egarr at the harpsichord, in London's Independent enthused, "this was lively, discursive, idiosyncratic, fluid, exciting, risky, funny, characterful and original. Exactly what one wants in Bach and what one so seldom gets."
Britain's Academy of Ancient Music, now in its fourth decade, was one of the first ensembles to feature period instruments in the performance of early music. Under the direction of Christopher Hogwood, the ensemble became a household name around the globe as the epitome of historically informed performances of Baroque and early Classical music.
In 1996 Hancher presented the world premiere of the Handel & Haydn Society's "Orfeo and Euridice," a collaboration of Hogwood and choreographer Mark Morris. After the Hancher premiere the production made a tour of major U.S. cities before performances at the Edinborough Festival in Scotland.
In 2006 Hogwood assumed the title of emeritus director and passed leadership of the orchestra to Egarr. National Public Radio christened him "the Bernstein of early music" and a review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette asserted, "With Richard Egarr's brilliance as its music director, this orchestra is playing better than ever."
The "Brandenburg" Concertos are among the best-known works of the Baroque era. Bach was employed by the court in Coethen, Germany, from late in 1717 until 1723. In March 1721 he presented a manuscript of six orchestral concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg, who had heard Bach play in Berlin in 1718 or 19. They were of little use to the Margrave, since he did not have the players who could perform them, and Bach was never rewarded for his gift. In fact, the so-called Brandenburg Concertos had been written over the preceding years for the orchestral players in Coethen.
In the Brandenburg Concertos Bach replaced the standard Baroque "concerto grosso" instrumentation with a variety of instrumental combinations, most of them unprecedented. Instead of writing routine concertos, Bach wrote variations on the idea of the concerto -- the contrast between soloists and a larger group.
Lisa Simeone wrote for NPR's "Milestones of the Millennium" series on "Performance Today, " Few musical works are as loved -- and as often performed -- as the six 'Brandenburg' Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach. These six works display a lighter side of Bach's imperishable genius . . . Bach's genius opened up a vivid new world of music for chamber orchestra."
The March 25 concert is supported by Betsy Fahr, and William and Karen Rubright, through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Remaining tickets are $42; UI student $30; youth $29.40. Tickets may be ordered online at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu/tickets.html.
The Hancher box office is open for phone or walk-up business in Suite 107 in the south building of the Lindquist Center, at the corner of Madison and Burlington Streets, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Parking is available in the metered lot by the UI Main Library on Madison Street, or in the Old Capitol Town Center parking ramp at the corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets.
From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
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