If you go
What: Seicento Baroque Ensemble's "In Your Court: A Royal Tour"
When: 7 :30 p.m. March 22 (Boulder) and 23 (Denver), 2:30 p.m. on March 24 (Longmont)
Where: First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder; The Highlands Center (new location), 2945 Julian St, Denver; Stewart Auditorium, 400 Quail Rd., Longmont
More info: seicentobaroque.org
As a child, soprano vocalist Amanda Balestrieri used to sneak off to her great-aunt and uncle's front room parlor in London and marvel at the large Steinway piano that towered over her tiny frame. At age four, she was playing a variety of instruments and on the verge of reading music before learning to read words. By the age of six, she was already performing for audiences, marveling in the spotlight and the satisfaction it brings.
As the artistic director and conductor of Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Balestrieri has crafted an engaging production that is both moving and timeless. "In Your Court: A Royal Tour" will take audiences on a European musical excursion through the Baroque era with three area concerts.
"In a way, this production is similar to me sharing my favorite music as a teen with friends," said Balestrieri. "I'm trying to give people a taste of something they may want more of."
Incorporating powerful vocals with stirring instrumentals, the production manages to capture a theatrical element, without actually having elaborate staging or costuming. A grand sound of a trumpet harkens in the start of the show. The instruments used are a variety of replicas of traditional ones of that time, such as recorders made from olive wood. Performing the same pieces that were originally played at sought-after events orchestrated by courts and churches in the 17th century, Seicento Baroque Ensemble has elegantly brought the creative riches of the past into the present.
"For me, it's all about collecting material, thinking about the categories and arranging them so it makes a nice picture," said Balestrieri. "I want to make it as digestible as possible. When I'm in the audience, I want to know the context of the piece."
Intense research goes into crafting such an intricate production. Balestrieri and fellow musicians actually spent time transcribing music from authentic manuscripts that bared the barely-legible handwriting of past composers. Seeing the origins of the sophisticated scores and working to decipher their accuracy created yet a deeper admiration for Balestrieri.
"It's a time consuming process and takes a lot of dedication," said Balestrieri. "One of the most rewarding aspects comes with the things I learn along the way — the connections I make with real people and how they represented these texts in the music. I enjoy discovering different ways of presenting the same idea."
Having performed with international and national groups, Balestrieri's love for choral music has taken her on continent-crossing jaunts. Since her move to Colorado in 2009, she has been a popular guest soloist with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, the Colorado Symphony, Pro Musica Colorado, Sphere, Ars Nova, Seicento Baroque Ensemble, the Denver Early Music Consort, Boulder Bach Festival and the Fort Collins Symphony.
With an extensive musical background, she delights in now orchestrating a powerful textured soundscape that resonates with a wide-range of individuals. "In Your Court" provides an appetizing blend of piercing violins, warm cellos and heavy percussion when needed.
In part of the production, audiences will get to revel in the operatic work of female composer and poet Francesca Caccini, in a piece which references mythical water gods and the Polish crown prince.
"There's probably more women composers from this time period that we will never know about because they didn't sign their work or because they were suppressed," said Balestrieri.
Eventually, Balestrieri would like to add yet another artistic layer to her work by incorporating a Baroque dancer into future productions.
"I would like to expand our options," said Balestrieri. "Bring in a bigger orchestra, add some chamber opera, bring in more specialists."
"In Your Court" concludes with Ukrainian composer Nikolay Diletsky's "Easter Kanon, Canticle 9" — a stunning double choir sure to incite a response in attendees.
"I want audiences to walk away having experienced an emotional journey through music," said Balestrieri, "I want them to have excitement for what might happen if we continue in this vein."
Kalene McCort: 303-473-1107, email@example.com