Baroque ensembles combine for program featuring Bach, Vivaldi, Handel

By From page A9 | May 02, 2013

Think of Sunday’s 3 p.m. concert by the UC Davis Baroque Ensemble and the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble as a friendly doubleheader in the Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre.

The UC Davis ensemble — which has long been led by faculty members Michael Sand and Phebe Craig — trained Angelo Moreno in early music when Moreno was a student at UCD some years back. After Moreno graduated, he joined the Davis school district as a teacher, conducting orchestras at the junior high and high school level.

As enrollment in string music programs grew, Moreno eventually launched the DHS Baroque Ensemble, believed to be the only group of its kind in the country, giving high school students the opportunity to perform on gut-strung baroque-style instruments, as well as a harpsichord.

Moreno expressed his gratitude to Sand and Craig.

“Since the start of the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble, Phebe Craig has generously shared her expertise by coming to Davis High to coach the harpsichord students individually, and within the group’s rehearsal,” he said.

“The Davis High School Baroque Ensemble came about in large part due to the vital support of the UC Davis music department and the inspiration of Michael Sand and Phebe Craig.”

Sunday’s concert continues the recently established tradition of the two groups performing together.

“It gives us all the opportunity to collaborate across campuses and expand the learning experience for all performers involved,” Moreno said.

The UCD ensemble will present J.S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 5, and the Davis High ensemble will present a Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor by Antonio Vivaldi, with Jacqueline Liu and Ryan Hsu as soloists.

The two ensembles will combine to perform a Divertimento by Frantisek Xaver Richter (1709-1798). And the two groups will present highlights of G.F. Handel’s “Water Music,” composed for a festive occasion in 1717 to entertain King George I of England as he drifted down the River Thames on the royal barge.

Some 50 musicians played Handel’s music on a barge drifting roughly parallel to the one carrying the king. The king was so pleased with the music that he had several of Handel’s movements repeated so that he could hear them a second (or even third) time.

The concert is bargain-priced at $12 general, $6 for students and children. Tickets are available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

Jeff Hudson

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