Touring festival celebrates 6 centuries of early music

Katie Kowalski arts@ptleader.com
Posted 1/31/17

The Salish Sea Early Music Festival returns to Port Townsend for the second year, presenting internationally renowned musicians playing music from the Renaissance period to the early works by …

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Touring festival celebrates 6 centuries of early music

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The Salish Sea Early Music Festival returns to Port Townsend for the second year, presenting internationally renowned musicians playing music from the Renaissance period to the early works by Beethoven.

Three concerts are set for 2017 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Port Townsend: 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, and 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays, March 8 and May 17.

“St. Paul's is a lovely atmosphere for this kind of music,” said artistic director and flutist Jeffrey Cohan.

“We had a great audience last time that almost filled the church.”

Cohan, dubbed “The Flute Master” by The Boston Globe, founded the festival seven years ago. It's a touring fest that plays concerts in places all along the Salish Sea.

All the music is performed on period instruments.

“Everything is a little bit softer and a little rounder and richer,” said Cohan of the tones produced by period instruments, which developed their modern counterparts after the era pf Beethoven, around 1850, Cohan said.

CONCERT 1: FRENCH BAROQUE

The first concert, Feb. 4, is titled “Immortal French Baroque” and features French trios and solos performed by harpsichordist Hans-Juergen Schooner, Susie Napper on viola da gamba, and Cohan on flute.

“[Schooner and Napper ] are a couple of superstars, in my mind; we're really happy to have them come,” Cohan said.

Schooner teaches at the Music Conservatory in Lübeck, Germany, and was organist at St. Mary's Cathedral in Lübeck, one of the most coveted positions for organists in the world. He's also performed Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations “probably more than any other person on the planet,” about 120 times, Cohan said.

Napper is widely considered “the best viola da gamba player in North America and Canada,” Cohan said of the musician, who currently teaches in Montreal and Copenhagen.

CONCERT 2: TELEMANN

The March 8 concert celebrates the Baroque's most prolific composer, Georg Philipp Telemann. Along with Cohan on baroque flute, the concert features harpsichordist Bernward Lohr and his wife, violinist Anne Roehrig, both of whom teach at conservatories in Germany. “They're really wonderful musicians,” Cohan said.

CONCERT 3: 'NEW PERSPECTIVE'

The final program, set for May 17, is “A Century of New Perspective,” featuring 17th-century trios on both late Renaissance and early Baroque instruments. Featured musicians are violinist Ingrid Matthews, founder of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and “one of the real movers and shakers in early music in the Pacific Northwest”; harpsichordist Elisabeth Wright, professor of harpsichord at Indiana University; and Cohan.

“I'll be playing two different flutes that span the period during which the flute evolved,” Cohan said, referring to the period from the Renaissance to the Baroque. He plans to discuss the difference between the flutes as well.

For more information, visit

salishseafestival.org.

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