Silly me, just when I thought I knew almost all there was to know about music, I get introduced to a new instrument – the theorbo – a lute of sorts with 14 strings which stands almost 6’ tall, and Early Music, which encompasses Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. Early Music Hawaii presented a stunning quintet concert at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity on November 11, 2018, featuring Philadelphia’s Baroque Orchestra – Tempesta di Mare.
While Classical music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I was shocked to hear on HPR radio last Friday – just two days before the concert – that such a rare performance was happening in Kona! And with harpsichord? Which happens to be my favorite instrument! OMG, I had to get there. I even saw a friend from church there. The concert featured the music of Telemann and three of his contemporaries, for a night of music entitled “Holiday in Paris.” Gwyn Roberts on flute, her husband Richard Stone on Theorbo, Emlyn Ngai on violin, Lisa Terry on viola de gamba and Adam Pearl on harpsichord shared a splendid afternoon of ethereal music with about 50 audience members.
I hadn’t attended a classical concert since music camp in my middle school years, as I had imagined them to be boring and sleepy. This was nothing of the sort, each somber piece was sandwiched between lively, interesting numbers. While the audience was older in age than most concerts I’ve attended, no one could slumber, as the music was upbeat yet tender.
Early Music Hawaii, a nonprofit established to promote the enjoyment of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, arranged for Tempesta di Mare to perform on Oahu the day prior and here on the Big Island. The group hails from Philadelphia and morphs from a group of four to 18 musicians depending upon the specific music played for events nationwide. They have also traveled to Germany and the Czech Republic, performing more than 280 concerts by more than 70 composers. Tempesta di Mare, which means ‘storm at sea’ in Italian, has produced 10 CD’s for the British Label Chandos. They are the only American Baroque group to record for the prestigious label who has otherwise, a wholly European roster.
The program consisted of three extended pieces by Telemann, who wrote them while vacationing in Paris for eight months. Gwyn, the flute player, co-director and co-founder, explained that he was one of the most prolific music composers; he penned 3,000 pieces during his professional life of 60 years, until just a year before he passed at 87. That’s close to a composition a week, including Operas, sonatas, orchestral suites and oratorios. He may have inspired Bach and Handel, who both purchased and studied his music during the 1700’s.
During the first set, the Andante from the Sonata in C minor, Opus 1 Number 9 made me giggle internally, for the joy it evoked. Three other composers, who were responsible for getting Telemann out of Germany for the vacation to begin with, were featured with violin, viola and flute solos, with parts richly enhanced by the harpsichord. Many parts of the second set made me smile: one sounded like a happy lullaby of birds singing with rain lightly falling on a green, grassy field in France; another evoked a band of elves and gypsies celebrating life in a grand party. At times, it sounded as if the king and queen of the fairies were playing trumpet flowers for each other. When I shared this with the harpsichord player, Adam Pearl, he said coincidentally he was currently in the midst of writing an Opera entitled “Queen of the Fairies.”
Telemann’s Quatuor, which was inspired by his collaboration with his new friends in Paris, featured a lively ‘allegrement’ section which evoked a French soap-opera like vibe, reminiscent of a tragic movie featuring life, death and every emotion in between. Another section reminded me of a grand fairy ball held in a beautiful forest with fruits, wine and every delectable delicacy you can imagine! The violin and flute led the way like a couple of spirited ponies leading a parade in spring, while the viola de gamba pulled along a fancy cart with a newly married couple, featuring the harpsichord and theorbo as the newlyweds themselves.
Tempesta di Mare Info
While there aren’t many classical concerts on this big rock, I highly encourage you to check them out if you can, for no other reason than to experience something new. One of the audience members outside the concert shared a flyer with me, informing us of Ohrlando’s Chamber Ensemble playing November 18, 2018 at 3pm at a private residence. If you’re interested, contact [email protected] call 315-7666. If you want more information on other upcoming concerts, check out earlymusichawaii.com. You can also listen to the music of Tempesta di Mare on iTunes or on their website tempestadimare.org.
Love Guru Uma wears many hats these days: author, musician, Uber driver, substitute teacher and tour guide. She likes to stay busy to keep boredom at bay. See what new thing she’s up to at www.umaojeda.weebly.com.
Photos: Uma Ojeda