The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: You can hear six of Heinrich Biber’s early Baroque “Mysteries of the Rosary” partitas for violin and organ this Saturday night when the Madison-based early music duo Ensemble SDG gives a preview performance of its appearance at next week’s Boston Early Music Festival.

June 6, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Madison has a lot of classical music, especially for a city its size, and it also has a good amount of early music events and performers that include the Madison Early Music Festival, the Madison Bach Musicians, Eliza’s Toyes, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble and many others.

One of the lesser known but outstanding group is the Madison-based early music ensemble Ensemble SDG (below), which is inviting the public to a concert this Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Luther Memorial Church (below), 1021 University Avenue in Madison.

luther memorial church madison

The concert is entitled: “Youth, Power, and Wisdom: Biber’s Pictures of the Life of Christ.” The program will comprise six of partitas on the Mysteries of the Rosary by the Baroque composer Heinrich Biber (below): To be performed are Nos. I (The Annunciation, in a popular YouTube video at the bottom), IV (The Presentation), X (The Crucifixion), XI (The Resurrection), XII (The Ascension), and XIII (The Descent of the Holy Spirit).

The partitas, surviving in a manuscript from the 1680s, are unique examples of musical representation of historical events central to Christianity.

Heinrich Biber

This recital is a “preview” for a performance on the Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concert Series at First Lutheran Church of Boston. That program will double as a demonstration recital for violin makers who will display their work at the BEMF Exhibition. The Boston Early Music Festival runs from 9 to June 16. Here is a link to the festival’s homepage: http://www.bemf.org

There is no admission charge for the SDG concert, but voluntary contributions to offset the expenses of the concert and the tour to Boston will be very much appreciated.

Boston Early Music Festival

Ensemble SDG – for “Soli Deo Gloria” or Latin for “To the glory of God alone,” which is what J.S. Bach write at the end of many of his manuscripts – is made up of (below) organist and harpsichordist John Chappell Stowe, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Baroque violinist Edith Hines, who graduated from the UW-Madison School of Music with a specialty in early music and performs often in the Madison area.

Ensemble SDG Stowe, Hines 2

In this Madison program, Edith Hines will play several of the violins she will be demonstrating at BEMF, and John Chappell Stowe will play the church’s portative organ built by Gene Bedient.  The duo will be joined by Philip Spray (below) on a “violone”  crafted in emulation of 17th-century German models.

Philip Spray


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