It was so much fun the first time, Billy Traylor and his orchestra are coming back for more.
Traylor, a 1996 graduate of Denham Springs High School, and other members of the Austin Baroque Orchestra will present “Carnevale Veneziano,” a concert of chamber music from 17th-century Venice, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church on Monday, Jan. 21.
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 donation of $15. An informal pre-concert talk will begin 30 minutes before the program.
This performance will mark the orchestra’s second appearance in south Louisiana, following its debut last June. In that performance, Traylor and the orchestra performed “Croissant Baroque,” a concert of French chamber music composed in the first 50 years of New Orleans’ existence.
This time, they’ll be playing northern Italian music from the 17th century, which Traylor said “is about as far from the French repertoire we did last summer as you can get.”
“Italian music of the 17th century is some of the most beautiful and exciting of all early repertoire,” said Traylor, the group’s founder and artistic director. “This was a time of rapid aesthetic change in northern Italy, and these changes were heralded by the birth of the extravagant, expressive early Baroque style.”
Older instruments — such as the recorder, dulcian (a bassoon-like instrument), violin, and viola da gamba — came to be used in a much more virtuosic way than in the past, Traylor said, while new ideas about solo vocal music led to the invention of the theorbo, a large lute with bass strings.
The music, written by Italian masters, could be “mercurial and hyper-emotional,” explained Traylor, and “is a perfect sonic counterpart to the motion and emotion of Bernini’s sculptures and Carvaggio’s canvases.”
Monday’s program will aim to capture the sound world of luminaries such as Galileo, Carvaggio, Bernini, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, with music by titans such as Claudio Monteverdi, Giulio Caccini, and Antonio Vivaldi, as well as lesser-known names such as Dario Castello, Sigismondo d’India, and Luzzascho Luzzaschi.
The program will take the listener from the late madrigal style, as demonstrated by a bawdy canzona villanesca by the Netherlandish composer Adrian Willaert, through the early baroque works of Monteverdi and his contemporaries. It will end with examples of mature baroque works by Vivaldi and Alessandro Scarlatti.
The Austin Baroque Orchestra began in 2011 as Ensemble Settecento, a 10-person chamber ensemble. Since then, the ensemble has grown into an orchestra and choir with a roster of some 35 young musicians with specialized training in historical performance.
The players use period-appropriate performance practices and replicas of early instruments, while the chorus sings in an historically-informed manner, including the use of minimal vibrato and period diction.
Their concerts include works by renowned masters as well as pieces by less familiar composers. Each performance is preceded by an informative and informal discussion of the music and composers, led by the artistic director.
In addition to performances in Austin, the ensemble has begun performing regularly in Louisiana, with recent appearances in Baton Rouge and Natchitoches.
When: Monday, Jan. 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.)
Where: St. Aloysius Catholic Church, located at 2025 Stuart Avenue in Baton Rouge
Admission: Open to the public, with a $15 donation
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