The University of Indianapolis will be hosting the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra’s performance of “Towards Mozart: The Making of a Master” on Feb. 26 in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. According to the Founder and Vice President on the Board of Directors of the orchestra Tom Gerber, the Baroque orchestra is a chamber orchestra that specializes in playing music from the Baroque period, which is roughly about the 17th century.
Gerber said the instruments the group uses are not modern, but instead are built as they would have been in the Baroque era. He said most instruments are replicas in this concert, but they have performed with real historical instruments in the past. The group knows a lot of information about the music they play, according to Geber, such as who wrote it, what style it is and how it would have been played centuries before.
Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra Board President and Principal Viola Player Rachel Gries said the research that goes into the Baroque era creates a connection for her to the music. She said she loves being able to think about what was important to the composer in order to make the music feel more personal.
“We will read books that are written by composers and musicians at that time and [will think,] ‘What are their values? What are they looking for in the music? How are they performing it?’” Gries said. “So we try to not have our performances influenced by the music of today. We try to think, ‘What has come before that? What are the composer’s lives like? What are their standards? How do they tell us?’ Actually, there are tons of books that tell us about music and what the composers wanted, how they wanted it played.”
This is not the first time the Baroque orchestra has performed at the university, according to Gerber. Gerber used to teach in the music department at UIndy, and he said the chair of the music department took an interest in what the Baroque orchestra was doing. This led to the university music department becoming the residency sponsor for the ensemble, according to Gerber. The ensemble performed at UIndy last fall, making this their second concert of the season.
According to Gerber, the title “Towards Mozart: The Making of a Master” comes from the program looking at the influences for the young Mozart. Gerber said they will be playing pieces from Mozart’s early years and pieces by composers from the generation of Mozart’s father. Gerber describes these composers as writing in a late Baroque, early Classical style.
The performance will be hosting Barthold Kuijken, an internationally recognized flautist, according to Gerber. Kuijken is from Belgium and specializes in Baroque music. He is the Baroque Orchestra’s artistic director and conductor with this being his 20th season appearing with the orchestra, according to Gerber.
“When [Kuijken] comes to town, it’s always exciting because…we bring in one of the top Baroque music performing specialists from Europe to lead this orchestra here,” said Gerber.
According to Gerber, this performance would appeal to many UIndy students, but especially music majors. Gerber said that there is a lot for students to learn and a lot of changes in music and instruments to recognize.
“Students will notice that the violinists don’t have any chin rests because back then the Baroque violins didn’t have chin rests. They’ll see that the cellos don’t have the pin sticking on the floor because back then the cellos didn’t yet have what we call end pins,” said Gerber. “And there will be some wind instruments in the concert as well. We’ll have two oboes playing, and they’re Baroque oboes, meaning they are the ancestors of the modern day. So they’ll get a new context, live performance instruments from an earlier time period. It’s a rather unique sound. It’s similar to modern orchestras, but also very different.”