WEST JEFFERSON — The six members of Harmonia Baroque held an intimate concert showcasing baroque, the artistic expression celebrated in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe at Ashe County Arts Council on Feb. 1.
Ashe County Arts Council board of director’s member, Becky Marsten, welcomed everyone who was seated in the gallery and kicked off the evening of chamber music at 7:30 p.m.
“We are so fortunate to have such excellent musicians in our own backyard. The Ashe County Arts Council tries very hard to take advantage of the talent that we have in our own area, as well as bringing in people from the outside. So tonight we are going to be charmed by Harmonia Baroque,” Marsten said.
The evening featured five pieces, which were each written by different composers during the respective historical time periods. Each piece was comprised of four movements, which are what are typically referred to as songs in today’s culture.
Throughout each piece played, members of the ensemble switched out for different musical selections, with one piece played by all six members.
The piece was Georg Philipp Telemann’s ‘Tafelmusik’ in G Major, which was a form of music played during feasts or banquets. This music was described as being “folksy and joyful” by Schneeloch-Bingham.
Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham was on the traverso, Alicia Chapman was on the hautbois, Corinne Cassini was on the baroque cello, Douglas James was on the theorbo, Michael Bell was on the harpsichord and Hunter Holbert played the baroque violin.
Four of the Harmonia Baroque members are Appalachian State University faculty members at Hayes School of Music.
Schneeloch-Bingham teaches flute and directs the flute ensemble; Chapman is an instructor of oboe; Cassini is an adjunct professor of the Alexander Technique and James is a professor of guitar.
Bell is a member of the Arts Council’s board of directors and regularly performs with ensembles.
Holbert is a senior at Appalachian who is majoring in violin.
Each instrument played during the concert was one of the instruments for which the music was written.
In between some of the pieces, the members would give a brief overview of their instruments.
James gave a brief lesson about how to reach a low F sharp on the theorbo. Typically in order to achieve that note, the instrument will need 15 strings instead of the typical 14. He said that this could be achieved by tuning the existing strings.
They also provided background information about the composers of the pieces performed.
Schneeloch-Bingham shared information about Louis de Caix d’ Hervelois and how he didn’t work in a royal court or with famous people.
“I kind of champion him as a common folk musician and composer because he wrote for those of us who aren’t royalty. He even has one of his movements titled ‘Rondeau champêtre,’ and it means rural. So it’s country music y’all,” Schneeloch-Bingham said.
Douglas and Schneeloch-Bingham performed the movement together for the audience to experience.
After the performance, the audience was able to mingle with the musicians and help themselves to refreshments.