Com­ing up in Philly Music: Tem­pes­ta di Mare presents ear­ly, unex­plored Baroque Christ­mas music

2 minute read
Anne Schuster Hunter talks about early Baroque music in Kroměříž. (Photo retrieved via Wikimedia Commons)
Anne Schuster Hunter talks about early Baroque music in Kroměříž. (Photo retrieved via Wikimedia Commons)

Are you looking for Christmas music you haven’t heard before? Tempesta di Mare’s holiday concert will present a feast of Baroque novelties. None of the pieces on the program have ever been published and most of them dropped out of sight three hundred years ago.

The Tempesta program is a prime example of the scholarship that lies behind Baroque and Renaissance concerts. The musicians who specialize in early music have to master the instruments actually used in earlier periods but they’re also explorers, delving into troves of old manuscripts. In May of 2018, Tempesta’s co-director, lutenist Richard Stone, spent several days in the Czech town of Kroměříž, photographing fragile scores from an archive in the Archbishop’s palace. The Bishop-Prince of the area salvaged the town after it had been ravaged by the Thirty Years War, erecting new buildings and assembling cultural treasures that included a music collection.

In her blog on the Tempesta di Mara website, historian Anne Schuster Hunter reports that Stone says the music in the collection is “stunning.” The early Baroque was a period when European music was in a state of flux, Hunter writes, and the eight pieces on the program reflect the creativity of the period.

"This is a show,” she says, “that gives modern listeners a new angle on one of the most exciting, beautiful, and relatively unexplored areas of European art music." The roster includes pieces for trumpets, recorder, strings, flute, organ, and voices, all played on authentic period instruments by Tempesta’s veteran period instrument musicians. The four vocalists are all Baroque specialists who will be familiar faces to Philadelphians who follow series like the Bach Festival of Philadelphia.

What, Where, When:

Tempesta di Mare will present “A Czech Christmas” on December 6 at 8pm at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 23 South 38th Street, Philadelphia; December 7 at 8pm at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue; and December 8 at 3pm at Immanuel Highlands Episcopal Church, 2400 West 17th Street, Wilmington, Delaware.

Tickets are $40 Preferred, $30 General Admission, full time students with ID free, and they’re available online and at the door.

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