A festival rich in Colonial music

Celebration: Annapolis is the site of a series of concerts and events honoring the melodies of early America.

Arundel Live

April 15, 2004|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"It is one of the laws of nature that we often feel nearer to remote generations than to those which immediately precede us," wrote composer Igor Stravinsky, and this weekend Annapolis' cultural scene will attest to his wisdom.

Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, Chamber Music Annapolis and Historic Annapolis Foundation are co-sponsoring the first Maryland Early Music Festival, which will be held at sites throughout downtown Annapolis as a spring celebration of the arts in the capital city.

Festival organizers have arranged a series of concerts, enactments and exhibits designed to capture the spirit of 17th- and 18th-century cultural life.

A highlight of the event is a re-enactment of George Washington resigning his commission as commander in chief of the victorious Continental Army. The original event took place in Annapolis, and will be re-enacted Saturday and Sunday in the Senate chamber of the State House.

A vivid re-creation of a ball in the general's honor, with historically informed dancers and musicians from Goucher College and Towson University, will follow in the rotunda.

Meanwhile, a treasure trove of musical riches will await elsewhere in the city.

Tomorrow evening, the St. Mary's College Choir will perform the Musikalische Exequien by Heinrich Schutz, (1585-1672), a reverent, deeply consoling choral Requiem that's one of the masterpieces of the early German baroque movement.

Saturday brings jaunty fare by Lully, Purcell and Handel played on antique oboes and bassoons of Sarabande; works for violin and harpsichord by Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann performed by Alexandra MacCracken and Webb Wiggins; bright Colonial fare played and sung by David and Ginger Hildebrand, the Annapolis area's own 18th-century-style troubadours; and the music of Irish composer Turlough O'Carolan, (1670-1738) whose celestial harp playing helped found a national style of song.

Saturday concludes with rustic fare from Ireland and Scotland by the Ensemble Galilei, which command a strong following in the area from its many concerts in the Great Hall of St. John's College.

Sunday's musical highlight is a concert by Ensemble x579, an early music quartet trained at Indiana University and named for a type of dramatic chord that pops up frequently in the courtly music they play.

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