Music in Durham

November – baroque month

My friends and family will no doubt see the title of this post and wonder what’s different, but this month, there seems to be even more baroque music going on in my life than usual, with my first ever chance to see live baroque opera, and my first ever St Matthew Passion.

Bachtrack have also designated November as Baroque Music Month, and they’ll be publishing feature articles all the way through the month, One of the first articles they’ve published is a piece by me on South American Baroque – “Araujo to Zipoli” (great title – not mine!). I was delighted when I was asked to write it, because I’ve listened to a few bits and pieces here and there, but the trouble with listening to music on Spotify or i-tunes is that unless you get something with pdf sleeve-notes it’s easy to be lazy and not actually take in what you’re listening to, and this assignment made me rectify that. When Alison at Bachtrack asked me to write it, she also didn’t realise that I had lived in South America for a few years, and I enjoyed being able to slot the music into what I already knew about South American colonial culture and history.

My next baroque treat is that I have tickets for English Touring Opera’s three baroque operas from Venice at the Gala Theatre and I’m wildly excited. As much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, I wrote introductory guides and playlists for the three operas, so even though I’m not reviewing them for Bachtrack, I feel well prepared.

Then, it’s down to the serious hard work of tying up all the loose ends in the St Matthew Passion before I sing it with Durham Singers in Durham Cathedral on 23 November. I think I have all the notes, but there are still some crowd choruses that we haven’t rehearsed yet, so I can’t be certain, and I think it’ll be on a constant loop on my i-pod for the next few weeks.

This is, of course, on top of my daily diet of recorder practice. At the moment, I’m playing-in my new wooden descant with some preliminary note-bashing on Sammartini’s F-major concerto, brushing up Handel’s A-minor treble sonata for a first run-through with an accompanist for a concert in the new year, and using a Bach cello suite movement for some technique work. I also had a lovely evening yesterday playing through Handel, Telemann and Loeillet sonatas with a cellist friend, but that’s something that will be getting it’s own separate blog post soon.


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