Across the Channel: Early music for strings

Santa Fe: SAT | SEP 21 | 7 PM | TICKETS
St. John’s United Methodist Church • 1200 Old Pecos Trail • Santa Fe

This musical excursion features Jeffrey Noonan, theorbo and Baroque guitar; Sarah Biber, gamba; and Brandon Christensen, violin, performing Baroque music on period instruments. The concert offers the sounds of an intimate chamber concert from the 17th century and focuses on works written for the courts of Louis XIV in France and Charles II in England. Among those represented are the English composers Matthew Locke and Daniel Purcell as well as the French court musicians Marin Marais and Jacques Morel.

Trained as a classical guitarist, Jeffrey Noonan (theorbo and Baroque guitar) has played early plucked instruments for nearly forty years across the Midwest. Based in St. Louis, he has performed regionally with various ensembles including Shakespeare’s Bande, Musicke’s Cordes, Early Music St. Louis, Bourbon Baroque in Louisville, Madison Early Music Festival in Wisconsin, Ars Antigua in Chicago, and Musik Ekklesia in Indianapolis. Jeff directed Such Sweete Melodie, a quintet specializing in seventeenth-century vocal repertoire and is a founding member of Musicke’s Cordes, a duo with baroque violinist Samuel Breene and La Petite Brise, a trio featuring the baroque flute. As accompanist and continuo player, Jeff performs a varied repertoire ranging from sixteenth-century chanson with solo voice to Handel’s Messiah with the St. Louis Symphony. A scholar of the early guitar, Jeff has produced two books and articles for Grove on the subject as well as an edition of eighteenth-century violin sonatas by Giovanni Bononcini. Jeff holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame (A.B.), the Hartt School of Music (B.Mus.) and Washington University in St. Louis (M.Mus., Ph.D.) After sixteen years of teaching at Southeast Missouri State University, he retired as Professor of Music in 2015. Jeff has received funding and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Newberry Library. In 2016, the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission awarded him an Artist Fellowship in recognition of his work as a performer, teacher and scholar.

Gambist Sarah Biber has played across the United States, Australia and China. In a recent collaboration with dance, she performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company performing solo Bach for the company’s first performance with period instruments, her continuo playing mentinoed as “bracing” by the New York Times. Sarah earned her doctorate from Stony Brook University after double-degree studies at Oberlin Conservatory and College. In Australia, Sarah performed in the Opera House with the Sydney Symphony under numerous conductors including Gianluigi Gelmetti and Vladmir Ashkenazy. Sarah has attended or been a fellow at numerous festivals, including Tanglewood, Mannes Beethoven Institute, and the International Baroque Institute at Longy and the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute. As cellist of Kentucky’s premiere period ensemble, she collaborated in a performance of a Vivaldi Concerto, called “Passionate and insightful” and aired on NPR’s Performance Today. Recent performances feature her at the Aspen Music Festival and the Buell Art Series in Denver. Sarah is a founding member of Byrd on a Wire, Denver’s newest viol consort, and lives in Golden, Colorado.

Violinist Brandon Christensen’s career, grounded equally in chamber music and education, has given him the opportunity to perform and teach all over the world. Recently retired from the Holland School of Visual and Performing arts in Missouri where he was a tenured professor of violin, Dr. Christensen has also been on the faculties of Dickenson College, The Harrow School in Beijing, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. He has given extensive international clinics including master classes throughout China, in Italy, and in Sweden. Brandon has performed as a soloist with many chamber orchestras and symphonies including the Beijing Sinfonieta, The Southern Illinois Festival orchestra, the Carolina Chamber Symphony, and the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician he has collaborated with myriad international performers including Valentina Igoshina and Vladimir Mendelssohn of the Paris Conservatory, Jeffrey Zeigler of the Kronos Quartet, and Mark Sparks of the Saint Louis Symphony. A frequent performer in Italy, he was on the faculty of the Festival Suoni d’Abruzzo for three years, and has also performed in Bologna, Ascoli Piceno, and in Tuscany. Equally at home in all genres of classical music Brandon has given more than a dozen world premieres including the “Doppelganger” concerto for two violins by David Dzubay, (Indiana University) “A river to fill the silence” for violin and piano by Matthew Whittal (Sibelius Conservatory) and,“Zephyros” for violin and chamber orchestra by Enrico Blatti. In May of 2018, Brandon peformed the world premier of Silvano Scaltritti’s “Note dell’aria” for solo violin and wind orchestra with the Civica Orchestra di Fiatti in Milan, Italy. Active for many years with period music ensembles in the midwest, Brandon plays tonight on a violin by Jacob Klemm 1781 restored to its Baroque configuration by Gregory Bearden.

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