From ringtones to on screen background music, nothing evokes an image of class and good breading quite as well as baroque music. The ornate music has long been associated with the aristocracy of the 1700’s and was often played in the Italian and French court. One of the most famous Baroque composers was Antonio Vivaldi and the composition he is best known for is “The Four Seasons.”
From Friday, April 24 to Sunday, April 27 violinist Monica Huggett and Portland Baroque Orchestra will perform “The Four Seasons” along with additional works by Vivaldi and Matthew Locke. The event will include a pre-concert talk, which begins one hour before the show and features guest artists and scholars who will discuss the music and its history.
“The Four Seasons” is a series of four concertos for the violin that Mr. Vivaldi composed in 1720. The music has stood the test of time and is not only a part of musical history, but a part of the pop culture. In addition to being Verizon’s default ringtone, the spring concerto has been used in countless films and television shows, including The Simpsons, Grimm and the Sopranos.
Mr. Vivaldi is considered to be the greatest Baroque composers in history. He began playing the violin as a young boy, accompanying his father who gave up his barber shop to be a professional touring violinist.
Mr. Vivaldi took a break from music to study for the priesthood when he was fifteen-years-old. When he was twenty-five he began his first job as the master of the violin for Ospedale della Pietà which was an orphanage and music conservatory that’s purpose was to give opportunity to disadvantage children. He wrote many of his early compositions at the Venice orphanage.
The composer wrote “The Four Seasons” when he was appointed Maestro di Cappella of the court of prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua. The concertos were considered significant as they were the first pieces of classical music in which instruments were used to mimic sounds in nature.
Monica Huggett has been playing the baroque violin ever since she was sixteen years old. She is the artistic director of the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program. She has been the artist director of the Portland Baroque Orchestra for twenty years. This weekend’s concerts are part of Ms. Huggett national tour.
The baroque violin differs from the regular violin in terms of its shape and size. The instrument can be rather uncomfortable to play as they have no chin or shoulder rest. The body of the baroque violin has a broad design to produce a stronger sound and volume.
The Portland Baroque Orchestra is dedicated to performing and educating the public about music composed before 1840. The organization was formed in the 1980’s and has become one of the country’s most respected Baroque orchestras. They recently produced a studio recording of ten concertos by J.S. Bach for violin and oboe.
The orchestra has proven to be a great asset to Portland’s low income residents by offering $5 tickets and bringing outreach performances to high-needs schools.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24 and Saturday April, 25 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Portland. The church it is decorated with beautiful stain glass windows, has superior acoustic and is the perfect place to listen to baroque music.
If night time concerts aren’t for you the Four Seasons will be performed on Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. at the Kaul Auditorium on the Reed College campus. Ticket prices are $20.00 for students and seniors and $25.00 to $59.00 for everyone else.
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.