The return of the Renaissance

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By Special to the Monitor

On March 7, the Los Alamos Concert Association welcomes one of the most-respected early-music groups to Los Alamos.  Ensemble Caprice will perform a concert of Renaissance and Baroque period music at 4 p.m. in Duane Smith Auditorium. The concert will be followed by dinner with the artists at the Central Avenue Grill.

Ensemble Caprice formed in Germany in 1989 as a group to explore innovative interpretations of period music and has received international acclaim for its performances.  For the last 10 years the group has made Montreal its home, establishing its own concert series there as well as a festival and a competition for young professionals.  

Ensemble Caprice made its U.S. debut in the Boston Early Music Festival concert series in 2005 and has subsequently appeared in numerous venues in the United States. The ensemble continues to give concerts in Europe, and is regularly invited to participate in such early music festivals as those in Bruges, Belgium, Utrecht in The Netherlands, and the German Händel Festival in Halle and Recorder Festival in Stockstadt.  In May 2009, the ensemble performed at the Internationale Händel-Festspiele in Göttingen.  They have also toured in Israel and Taiwan.  In Canada, Ensemble Caprice is invited to perform at musical events such as the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Elora Festival and the Domaine Forget’s International Festival.

In March 2009, Ensemble Caprice received its  first JUNO Award, Canada’s Grammy, for the CD, “Gloria! Vivaldi’s Angels.”  The ensemble was also nominated for 2009 Echo Klassik awards in Germany.  In late 2009, the group was selected from among 50 music, dance and theatre organizations to win the Prix du Public (Audience Appreciation Prize) with its “Vivaldi and the Gypsies” tour of 2008-2009.  In January, Ensemble Caprice was honored with the Prix Opus Award in the category “Early Music Concert of the Year” and was named a finalist for the grand prize of the Montreal Arts Council in the music category.

In addition to the standard early-music repertoire, Ensemble Caprice reconstructs music from a collection of gypsy melodies and blends it with court music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Composers like Telemann and Vivaldi were intrigued by the gypsy music of the period.  Telemann wrote in his autobiography that listening to gypsy music for one week could inspire a serious composer for the rest of his life. Vivaldi was exposed to gypsy music performed by traveling gypsies while in Venice. Ensemble Caprice demonstrates that these composers and others picked up elements of gypsy melodies and incorporated it into their own works.  

For the concert, Ensemble Caprice will present “La Follia and the Gypsies,” a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque music interwoven with gypsy music from the same period.  Baroque composers include Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Andrea Falconieri, Telemann and Vivaldi. The gypsy music comes from the Uhrovska Collection, a manuscript containing Hungarian, Czech, Slovakian and other gypsy tunes and named for the Slovakian town in which it was found in the mid-20th century.  Likely compiled by an itinerant musician, the collection contains almost 350 pieces of many ethnic and national characters.  For the most part, the music in the Uhrovska Collection is notated in a single voice; Ensemble Caprice has fleshed out the rhythms and mid- and bass-lines as would have been done by gypsy groups.

Following the concert, the Concert Association will hold a dinner at the Central Avenue Grill with the artists of the Ensemble Caprice. The cost is $50 per adult, $30 per youth; $15 of the ticket price is tax deductible as a contribution to the Los Alamos Concert Association. These dinners have always been very popular because of the rare opportunity to get to meet and talk with the artists informally for an extended period. Order dinner tickets by calling 662-9000 or by using the ticket order form on the website.

Sunday’s concert is sponsored by the Zia Credit Union.

Individual concert tickets are $35 for adults and $30 for seniors, with a second ticket costing $25.  Youths ages 5-18 may attend at no charge, but must have a ticket.  Children must be at least 5 years old to attend concerts and those younger than age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.  

Tickets may be obtained at CB Fox, Otowi Station Bookstore, Smith’s in White Rock and Nicholas Potter Bookseller in Santa Fe.  For additional information, call the LACA at 662-9000 or visit the LACA website at www.losalamosconcert.org.