MUSICA PACIFICA

MUSICA PACIFICA
BAROQUE ENSEMBLE

Musica Pacifica

 

Musica Pacifica is delighted to offer a variety of school and community outreach activities, including masterclasses, ensemble coachings, individual lessons, lecture-demonstrations and school programs.  Possible topics and formats for the latter two are described below: In all of these presentations, Musica Pacifica plays a variety of musical selections, may read from the literature of the period, and may use slides showing contemporary scenes and works of art.  The discussion level is geared to the age and sophistication of the audience, and will be interactive wherever possible.

1. INTRODUCTION TO BAROQUE MUSIC AND "PERIOD" INSTRUMENTS: SAMPLE PROGRAM

In our school presentation, we begin explaining what is meant by "Baroque" music.  We then play a short piece or movement, with all the instruments together, and point out a concept, such as "imitation" or "conversation" that the students can listen for.  Next, we introduce ourselves and our individual instruments (recorder, baroque oboe, baroque violin, cello and/or viola da gamba, and harpsichord): each musician talks about his or her instrument and then plays a short solo piece that highlights the unique characteristics of that instrument.  In the case of the recorder, all the sizes, from sopranino to bass, are demonstrated.

Next, all the instruments are played together in some ensemble pieces, demonstrating the particular role that each instrument has and how they fit together as a whole, as well as a few of the main concepts in Baroque music.  Depending on the age-level of the students, some of the concepts we demonstrate may include:  concerto, ritornello, basso continuo, counterpoint, ground bass, and ornamentation.  We generally point out a few things for the students to listen for in each piece, for example asking them to raise their hands to identify when a prominent theme returns, or when a particular instrument uses a certain technique, such as double-stopping on the violin.  During the presentation, we also talk a bit about ourselves (since we have found students to be very interested in this!), telling about our backgrounds, how long we’ve been playing our instruments, how we got together as a group, what it is like to be professional musicians who perform old music today, etc.  If appropriate to the level of the audience, we may discuss how our "period" or "historical" instruments differ from their modern counterparts.  There will then be a question-and-answer period before our final ensemble selection.

2.  MUSIC AND SOCIETY
The music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries provides a window into the lives of the people of those times.  Three peaks of the Baroque period, during which music was central to cultural and social life, are highlighted: early seventeenth-century Italy, the court of Versailles during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV, and the Germany of J.S. Bach and his family.  Musica Pacifica performs musical examples from these eras and discusses the broader social context of these works

3.  POPULAR MUSIC: THEN AND NOW
Popular music was the basis of much of the "art" music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Musica Pacifica explores the popular roots of the music of this period, performing works by composers such as Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach, Marin Marais, and Marco Uccellini, and illustrating their derivation from popular songs and dances.  Today's forms of popular music (including jazz, rock, popular "standards" and rap) are compared and contrasted with early folk and popular forms.

4.  MUSIC AND DANCE OF COLONIAL TIMES
Music and dance were the primary forms of entertainment available to the American colonists of the mid-eighteenth century.  In this program, in addition to musical selections, readings from Thomas Jefferson and other prominent figures of the era provide a glimpse into the cultural and social life of the emerging nation and the important role music and dance played in the lives of people of all social levels.