Billy Traylor is coming home.
And this time, the Livingston Parish native won’t be alone.
Traylor, a 1996 graduate of Denham Springs High School, and other members of the Austin Baroque Orchestra will present “Croissant Baroque,” a concert of French chamber music composed in the first 50 years of New Orleans’ existence, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church on Monday, June 18.
The concert, scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at 2025 Stuart Avenue in Baton Rouge, is open to the public, with an optional free-will offering. An informal pre-concert talk will begin 30 minutes before the program.
This performance will mark the orchestra’s debut appearance in south Louisiana.
“We’re incredibly excited to be coming to one of the most French places in America to perform a program of music that could’ve easily been enjoyed by Louis XIV and his successor, Louis XV,” said Traylor, the ensemble’s artistic director and founder.
The Austin Baroque Orchestra & Chorus was founded in 2011 as Ensemble Settecento, a 10-person chamber ensemble. Since that time, the ensemble has grown into an orchestra and choir with a roster of 35 musicians who all have specialized training in historical performance.
Players use period-appropriate performance practices and replicas of 17th- and 18th-century instruments, while the chorus sings in an historically-informed manner, including the use of period diction.
In addition to its performances in Texas’ capital city, the ensemble appears regularly at San Antonio’s historic Mission Concepción, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“We perform using copies of instruments from the baroque era,” explained Traylor, an alumnus of Indiana University. “So the violins and cellos strings are made of sheep-gut instead of metal, and the cello rests on the players’ calves instead of on an endpin.”
Traylor said the woodwind instruments have far fewer keys than those of today and are made of softer woods than their modern counterparts. He added that other instruments like the recorder, harpsichord, and viola da gamba don’t have a modern counterpart, as they fell out of use by the end of the 18th century.
The program will be comprised of chamber music composed in France in the first half of the 18th century. Some of the composers whose works will be featured include Jean-Baptiste Lully, Marin Marais, Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Michel Corrette, and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier.
“Many of these composers’ names are unfamiliar to audiences today, but they were well known to their fellow Frenchmen,” Traylor said.