Tempesta DiMare celebrates 20th anniversary season

by Michael Caruso
Posted 1/21/22

The Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players will field an ensemble of flute, two violins, two violas, cello, lute and harpsichord.

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Tempesta DiMare celebrates 20th anniversary season

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Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, will continue its 20th anniversary season with a series of concerts Jan. 28, 29 and 30th. The concert program looks back on 20 years of the ensemble’s efforts to introduce to local music-lovers portions of the baroque repertoire that were once unfamiliar. It’s also looking ahead to surveying new discoveries of 17th and 18th century music written by composers other than Vivaldi, Handel and Bach.

The Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players will field an ensemble of flute, two violins, two violas, cello, lute and harpsichord.

As the 20th century turned into the 21st, the move into playing baroque music on period instruments of the era had shifted into high gear. Alongside groups such as the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, that performed the baroque and classical repertoire on modern instruments, ensembles were appearing all across America that revived the historical instruments of the time the music was composed.

From the get-go, Richard Stone and Gwyn Roberts, Tempesta’s founders, were at the forefront of this trend. Twenty years later, their faith in themselves, their fellow musicians, and local audiences has paid off.

During the two decades of its history, Tempesta has garnered national and even international acclaim. “Fanfare” magazine has hailed its “abundant energy, immaculate ensemble, impeccable intonation and an undeniable sense of purpose.” In a field dominated by European period instruments ensembles, Tempesta is the only American baroque orchestra to record for the U.K.-based Chandos label, which has released 13 of its albums.

Stone and Roberts have wisely carved out a special niche in the baroque and early classical repertoire for the ensemble by focusing more on the work of lesser-known composers rather than reprising, season after season, the most popular scores of the “Baroque Big Three” – Vivaldi, Handel and Bach. Of course, music composed by those three titans does, indeed, appear on Tempesta’s programs, but not with numbing frequency and regularity. Rather, Roberts and Stone have done yeoman’s work scouring libraries in cathedrals, monasteries, castles and town halls throughout Europe to uncover forgotten masterpieces of the era that somehow or another were overlooked by the rush to hear something new.

Music by Silvius Leopold Weiss, Johann Gottlieb Janitsch, Philipp Jakob Rittler, Francois Couperin, George Philip Telemann, and Johann Sebastien Bach will grace the program. The works include Bach’s “Recorder Concerto” (after BWV 520 arranged by Stone), Couperin’s “Rittrato dell’amore,” Janitsch’s “Sonata da camera in D,” two sonatas by Rittler, Weiss’ “Lute Concerto,” and Telemann’s “Concerto in E minor for Flute & Violin.”

The Chestnut Hill performance is set for Sunday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. For more information visit tempestadimare.org.

‘EUGENE ONEGIN’ at AVA

The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia will present four performances of Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera, “Eugene Onegin,” Jan. 22-29 in its Helen Corning Warden Theater, 1920 Spruce St. The production will be semi-staged, directed by AVA alumnus Richard Troxell, and conducted and accompanied at the piano by Jose Melendez.

The performances will be dedicated to the memory of Ghenady Meirson, the recently deceased long-time Russian coach at AVA.

Although most American opera-lovers consider the art form to be owned lock, stock and barrel by either the Italians or the Germans, both French and Russian composers produced more than a handful of scores that have steadily maintained their presence in the active opera repertoire. While many think of Tchaikovsky as mainly a composer of symphonies, overtures and ballets, he also wrote 11 operas.

“Eugene Onegin” has maintained its place as his finest effort. Tchaikovsky assembled the libretto himself from passages of the verse novel of the same title by Alexander Pushkin. Its characters are iconic and identifiable and its vocal writing is idiomatic.

And not to worry about the absence of Tchaikovsky’s splendid orchestration. Melendez is a superb accompanist and pianist – he’ll conjure up the composer’s sumptuous scoring at the Steinway grand piano.

For more information visit avaopera.org.

CLASSICAL MUSIC at WOODMERE

Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill will present two solo piano recitals featuring the Finnish-born pianist Marja Kaisla Friday & Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m. & 5 at 6 p.m.

The Friday program includes Liszt’s “Spanish Rhapsody,” Brahms’ “Variations & Fugue on a Theme by Handel,” Debussy’s “Estampes” and Stravinsky’s “Petrushka Suite.” The program on

Saturday is devoted to music composed by Franz Schubert. For more information visit woodmereartmuseum.org.

You can contact NOTEWORTHY at Michael-caruso@comcast.net. To read more of NOTEWORTHY, visit chestnuthilllocal.org.

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