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Baroque Music in Montana

Montana Baroque

By Craig Thomas Naylor

Many of us are familiar with Pachelbel’s “Canon” or the “Four Seasons” of Vivaldi or, especially, the beloved “Messiah” by George Frideric Handel. But add Johann Sebastian Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, and Claudio Monteverdi, and you have only a few of the great composers of the Baroque period.

This era spanned the years from the end of the Renaissance, around 1600, to the year J.S. Bach passed away, in 1750. Montana is fortunate to have three summer music festivals led by brilliant artistic directors, which feature this elegant, elaborate, and engaging music.

Baroque Music Montana

Baroque Music Montana was founded in 2015 by violinist and Artistic Director Carrie Krause. Her family goes back generations in ranching country near Lavina, Mont., but her love for music, especially the Baroque period, has taken her on performance and research trips to Europe and across the United States. She studied at prestigious universities, including Julliard.

Many years ago, Krause was challenged to play Giuseppe Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill Sonata” in historic style, and her spirit has pulsed with Baroque music ever since.

Baroque Music Montana presents their music on the instruments of the time period. The violins use strings made from sheep intestine (commonly called “cat gut,” but rest assured, no felines are injured for this music), instead of the steel strings used on modern violins. The bows are also different, and Carrie owns four different styles that span the Baroque era. This historically accurate performance style gives the music an intimate sound enhanced with luscious overtones.

An additional feature of this music is the freedom musicians have to embellish their music, adding trills and improvised ornaments at the whim of the performer. Add in harpsichord, lute (including the gigantic lute called the theorbo), the Baroque bassoon and cello, harp, viola da gamba (precursor of the cello), and other exotic instruments like my favorite, the sackbut (a miniature trombone), and listeners are in for a treat of historical insights and musical delight.

The group will hold numerous summer concerts in and around the greater Bozeman area, from Twin Bridges to Big Timber and beyond, beginning in mid-June. Their July series features the music of Arcangelo Corelli, one of the great violinists and melodists of the era.

They also offer a Period Performance Workshop, August 18-20, offering musicians of all abilities the opportunity to delve into this historic music.

For folks who can still trek up to the top of a mountain, Baroque Music Montana will perform concerts featuring dance on the high peaks. See the entire season, including upcoming events in the fall and winter, at baroquemusicmontana.org.

Montana Baroque Music Festival

The Montana Baroque Music Festival is held at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort August 2-4. Artistic Director Adam LaMotte has three different concerts scheduled for those days.

The festival launched in 2003, and LaMotte has coordinated it since 2005. He grew up in Houston, studied at the Manhattan School of Music and Queens College, then, like so many of us here in the Big Sky Country who hail from other states, he yearned for the mountains of the West and ended up in Portland, Ore. He owns LaMotte Violins, a music store selling Baroque instruments, and travels all over the western United States as a featured artist in numerous orchestras, including the Missoula-based String Orchestra of the Rockies.

LaMotte became entranced with Baroque music decades ago when he heard a trio sonata by Arcangelo Corelli. He’s followed the muse ever since.

The orchestras, concerti, and chamber music concerts Adam has prepared rely on period instruments for historically accurate renditions of the music. Each year they draw a few hundred people to the events. Performers are often specialists in their field and come from all over the United States.

Patrons can come just for the evening musical events, or they can book a room, soak in the pools, and enjoy a meal at the resort. You can find the list of events and tickets at quinnshotsprings.com/baroque. This is a summer-only festival.

Musikanten Montana

Musikanten Montana was founded by Artistic Director Kerry Krebill in 2004 and has offered concerts of choral and instrumental masterworks of the Baroque (and other) musical periods since.

Krebill is from Iowa, studied at Drake and Catholic Universities, and was a leader of the Washington, D.C. area choral and church music scene for decades before relocating to the mountains outside of Helena.

The group’s summer festival, Helena Choral Week, is unique: in addition to concerts, they offer a music school teaching theory and performance, master classes, open rehearsals, informal concerts at noon, and other events to keep music lovers enthralled all day long.

The year’s festival runs June 18-25. In the fall and winter, they turn their attention toward some of the larger Baroque works for orchestra and choir with their Montana Early Music Festival concerts. More information, including events offered throughout the year, can be found at musikantenmt.org. MSN

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