Come with me on a journey back in time - imagine we are in Venice, Italy, the year is 1619, and a baby girl has just been born into the illustrious Strozzi family. We are in a moment when the city is …
Come with me on a journey back in time - imagine we are in Venice, Italy, the year is 1619, and a baby girl has just been born into the illustrious Strozzi family. We are in a moment when the city is "at its cultural peak." It is "a city of wealth, peace, academic curiosity, and musical innovation," as Barbara Strozzi scholar Candace Magner writes. In the midst of these cultural riches, Strozzi matures into a singer, instrumentalist and the most published composer of her era. She, and her music, are celebrated in her home city.
Now, fast-forward 400 years and cross over the Atlantic Ocean for the occasion of Strozzi's quadricentennial birthday celebration here in Northern New Mexico. Five of Strozzi's compositions are being performed in two concerts that celebrate great women composers across the ages.
Taos Soundscapes presents two Music of Great Women Composers concerts, organized by musicologist Claire Detels in honor of Women's History Month. The first is held on Saturday (March 9) at 3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Taos, 215 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Call (575) 758-3124. The second, a repeat performance, will be held on Sunday (March 10) at 3 p.m. at United Church of Angel Fire, 40 West Ridge Road, Angel Fire. Call (575) 377-1559.
The program for Music of Great Women Composers includes movements from "Sonata No. 1 in D. Minor" by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729), "Sonata No. 2 in E Minor" by Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940) and "Sonata No. 1 in D Major" by Anna Bon (1738-after 1769). The five pieces on the program which are composed by Barbara Strozzi are "O Maria, Op. 5," "Il Romeo, Op. 2," "L'Amante timido eccitato, Op. 1," "Tra le speranze e'l timore," and "Il ritorno."
Magner is one of the performers for the Great Women Composers concerts. I asked her what she finds unique about Strozzi's compositions.
"Some of it is the poetry she's chosen, but more than that it was a way of writing that was just starting to happen when she was composing, where the words were taking more importance, and the music was supporting the emotion and the flow of the words, rather than fitting the words into a nice tune," Magner reflected.
"She is sometimes called the first composer who called her pieces a cantata," Magner continued, explaining that Strozzi wrote several sections to a piece, each with a distinct mood and emotional quality.
"She does that so brilliantly - no one touched that for generations," said Magner.
Magner, who has studied Strozzi and her compositions for decades, has published the complete works of Strozzi through Cor Donato Editions, cordonatoeditions.com. Magner also maintains a website of information on Strozzi at barbarastrozzi.com.
The Music of Great Women Composers concert features instruments from the Baroque era, and will be performed by Claire Detels (harpsichord), Sarah Manthey (viola de gamba), Taos Soundscapes Artistic Director Rebecca Caron (cello), Candace Magner (baroque guitar) and Joe Fasel (voice flute). The pieces by Strozzi are written for instrument and voice, and will be sung by soprano Elizabeth Calvert and tenor Mark Jackson.
Tickets for the Great Women Composers Concerts are $20; $15 for students and veterans; and free for those under 12 years. Tickets may be purchased online at taossoundscapes.com.
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