Harpsichord, Hurdy Gurdy and Musette Spotlighted in LA Chamber Orchestra Baroque Conversations Program

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's (LACO) Baroque Conversations spotlights the harpsichord, hurdy-gurdy and musette in an evening led by LACO Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee and featuring Curtis Berak, one of the world's leading hurdy-gurdyists, and musette player Bruce Teter on Thursday, November 3, 2016, 7 pm, at Zipper Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

The program includes Rameau's 5th Concert, from Pièces de clavecin en concerts; Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G major; and Telemann's Suite No. 6 in E minor, from Nouveaux quatours en six suites. The three final works on the program, Lully's "Turkish March" from Le bourgeois gentilhomme; a selection of Vaudevilles by Chédeville and Corrette's Concerto No. 7 in C minor, "La Servante au Bon Tabac" from Concertos Comiques, showcase the hurdy gurdy and the musette. Mabee, who curated the program and introduces the works from the stage, is celebrating her 40th anniversary with the Orchestra. Berak, "a mad musical scientist" (LA Downtown News) who restores and collects antique hurdy-gurdys and has amassed the largest collection in America, has been featured on the film soundtracks for Polar Express, The Three Musketeers, The Craft, The Tie That Binds and Newsies, among others. Teter, who in addition to his busy performance schedule is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at UCLA, where he studies Alzheimer's disease, was introduced to the musette de cour bagpipe by Berak and taught himself to play using the Hotteterre treatise of 1737. Joining Mabee, Berak and Teter for the evening of Baroque chamber music are LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, Associate Principal Cello Armen Ksajikian and flute Sandy Hughes. The concert concludes with an audience Q&A with Mabee and the musicians. A complimentary wine reception for all ticket holders begins at 6:30 pm.

The hurdy-gurdy, an intriguing stringed instrument also known as vielle à roue (wheel fiddle) that today is rarely used in concert halls, was common throughout Europe from the 12th to 19th centuries and brought back to public awareness during the 1960s due in part to pop singer Donovan's hit Hurdy Gurdy Man. The instrument, which looks like a hybrid of a lute or guitar and a keyboard, has a crank-turned rosined wheel that rolls against strings to produce a sound similar to that of a violin bow rubbing against a string. The musette, resembling a bagpipe, is played by pumping the instrument's bellows to blow air through both a chanter and a drone to produce sound. These folk instruments entered aristocratic musical circles as composers began to incorporate folk music into court life.

Teter, largely self-taught, has played the recorder for over 30 years and the bagpipe for 25 years. In addition to playing the musette de courbagpipe, he plays such other instruments as the rauschpfeife, pennywhistle and crumhorn. He co-directs the Wessex Consort, Distorted Pearl and The Piccadillys; plays in the Los Angeles Recorder Orchestra as soprano principal; sings with the Sacred Harp and Georgian choirs; and is a harmonic overtone singer.

Mabee has been principal keyboard with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra since 1976, and has been featured on more than 20 works from the concerto repertoire under the batons of Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Hogwood, Helmuth Rilling, Nicholas McGegan and Iona Brown. She performs with the Bach's Circle, which focuses on the music of JS Bach, his sons and contemporaries. Mabee is the music director of Ritornello, a period instrument ensemble that presents educational programs for schools, museums and community groups. She has also been featured on piano for world premieres by John Adams, Bruce Broughton, Donald Crockett and Libby Larsen.

The enlightening five-concert Baroque Conversations series provides insight into the genesis of orchestral repertoire from early Baroque schools through the pre-classical period. The third Baroque Conversations program, on February 9, 2017 features Rachel Barton Pine on violin and viola d'amore leading the Orchestra in works by Vivaldi, Pisendel and Locatelli. Baroque Conversations is generously sponsored by Carol & Warner Henry, a Friend of LACO and the Ronus Foundation.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), proclaimed "America's finest chamber orchestra" by Public Radio International, has established itself among the world's top musical ensembles. Since 1997, LACO has performed under the baton of acclaimed conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, hailed by critics as "visionary" and a conductor with "effortless musicality and extraordinary communicative gifts." Under Kahane's leadership, the Orchestra maintains its status as a preeminent interpreter of historical masterworks and a champion of contemporary composers.

Tickets, starting at $58, are available online at laco.org, or by calling LACO at 213 622 7001. Single tickets can also be purchased at the venue box office on the night of the concert, if tickets remain. Discounted tickets are available by phone for groups of 12 or more. College students may purchase student rush tickets ($12), based on availability, at the box office an hour before the concert. Also available for college students is the $30 "Campus to Concert Hall All Access Pass" - good for all eight of LACO's Orchestral concerts, five Baroque Conversations and three Westside Connections series concerts.

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