Cameron University’s Civic Symphony will present “Going for Baroque,” an outdoor concert in the Fine Arts Courtyard, on Saturday, October 3, at 3 p.m. The program will feature string ensemble music from the Baroque era featuring selections by J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli. The concert is open to the public at no charge. Social distancing will be in effect, as well as the use of face coverings. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will take place in the McCutcheon Recital Hall, which will be limited to 50 patrons.
Directed by Dr. Kirsten Underwood, the Cameron Civic Symphony is made up of Cameron students and community members.
The concert will open with Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Strings in G major,” RV 150 (a designation from the Ryom-Verzeichni catalog that identifies Vivaldi's works by a simple number). An excellent violinist, Vivaldi was appointed violin master at the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for foundlings that specialized in musical training of its female wards, in 1703. Those with musical aptitude were assigned to its choir and orchestra, whose much-praised performances assisted the institution’s quest for donations and legacies.
“Vivaldi composed an enormous amount of wonderful music during this time, and 500 of his concerti survive,” Underwood says. “Both the G major and C minor are concerti ripieni, string concerti without a soloist. The G major is lively, with the last movement full of wonderful imitative effects, creating a sweetness of sound only possible with an ensemble made up exclusively of stringed instruments.”
Second on the program will be the Air from “Orchestral Suite No. 3,” BWV 1068 by J.S. Bach, arranged for strings by Bob Mathews. Bach composed four orchestral suites, a genre that was very popular in Germany at the time. Suite No. 3 was written around 1730.
“An Air is a song-like instrumental composition, a variant of the musical song referred to as aria,” Underwood explains. “This melody is well known as a stand-alone piece because of an arrangement by German violinist August Wilhelmj known as ‘Air on the G String.’”
The ensemble will then perform Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Strings in C minor,” RV 119. Underwood relates that the piece “creates a deep level of intensity, thanks to an imitative opening movement, somber slow movement, and dancelike third movement.”
Gavotte and Musette from “English Suite No. 3,” BWV 808, by J.S. Bach, arranged for strings by E. Goldman will follow. Bach’s English Suites were written for harpsichord or clavichord, and the BWV 808 is thought to be one of the earliest of his 19 keyboard suites. Arranged for string ensemble, the title given may be confusing to pianists in the audience.
“The original suite contains a Gavotte I and Gavotte II, and this arranger re-named the second gavotte a ‘musette’ after the small bagpipe played with bellows in the 17th-18th century French court,” Underwood says. “A bagpipe always plays drone tones as well as the melody, and you hear a subtle drone effect in this arrangement played by the cellos as they accompany the beautiful and well-known melody of the second gavotte.”
Concluding the program will be the Corelli’s “Concerto VIII, Op. 6, No. 8,” known as “The Christmas Concerto.” A concerto grosso, this piece features a small group of soloists who play opposite the ripieni, or main ensemble. Featured soloists will be Cameron students Sidney Halbrooks and Charlee Juarez, community members Josie Callen, Ann-Mary Hartman and Katrina Thompson, and Cameron emeritus faculty member Barbara Pickthorn. This piece bears the inscription “Fatto per la note di Natale,” which translates as “made for the night of Christmas.”