Welcome to Tafelmusik Orchestra`s

Welcome to Tafelmusik Orchestra's
Baroque Adventure...
The Quest For
This guide was created by Alison Mackay to accompany Tafelmusik’s
music education initiatives.
There is no specific CD referred to in this guide.
To hear the sound of a baroque orchestra you may wish to listen to:
A Baroque Feast (CD# AN 2 9811)
Analekta 2002
Music by: J.S. Bach, Purcell, Marcello, Vivaldi, Handel, and Locatelli
Soloists include: John Abberger, oboe; Maxine Eilander, harp;
Geneviève Gilardeau, violin; Jeanne Lamon, violin;
Christina Mahler, cello and Allen Whear, cello
These materials are intended for educational purposes only and are protected under copyright.
© Tafelmusik, 2002
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra & Chamber Choir
427 Bloor Street West • Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1X7 • Phone: 416-964-9562 • Fax: 416-964-2782
What is Arundo Donax?
One of the most important instruments in the Tafelmusik Orchestra is the baroque
oboe. Oboists make their sound by blowing into a "double reed" made from two
pieces of a rare bamboo-like plant which grows in the south of France. The
botanical name for this plant is "arundo donax". Our concert is built around an
adventure story, narrated by Shaw Festival actor Blair Williams, concerning a
dangerous mission to procure arundo donax for oboe players in baroque England.
What other instruments will we hear at the Tafelmusik concert?
Our concert will feature the most common instruments of a baroque orchestra –
baroque violins, violas, cellos, double bass, harpsichord and baroque oboes. The
accompanying guide gives detailed information about each of the instruments and
about the Tafelmusik Orchestra and its way of performing baroque music.
Our concert also features an ancient Chinese instrument. the "pipa." This plucked,
four-stringed lute (a guitar-like instrument) was introduced into China from central
Asia before the fifth century. The most famous compositions played on the pipa,
such as "Snow in Spring," which will be performed at our concert, date back at
least to the eighteenth century, the time of our story. The pipa is a very virtuosic
instrument which often imitates phenomena of nature in its music.
Our distinguished performer on the pipa is Wen Zhao, who has been a guest artist
this year in Tafelmusik's “Four Seasons Project” a multi-disciplinary study for
grade-six students on the theme of the four seasons in art and music. (This project,
in partnership with the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning through the Arts
ProgrammeTM, develops aspects of the Ontario grade-six curriculum in the areas of
science, art, music, and dance.)
When does the story take place?
Our story is set in 1704, during the War of Spanish Succession.
England and France were fighting over the choice of the next king of Spain, and
about whether England or France would control Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
During this war, French forces captured St. John's, Newfoundland, and the English
gained control over Port-Royale and Acadia. (See "War of Spanish Succession" in
the Canadian Encyclopedia for more details). The queen of England at this time
was Queen Anne. The king of France was the famous "Sun King", Louis XIV.
Where does the story take place?
Our story begins in London, England, where our hero and heroine, Edward and
Frances Purcell, live. The orphaned teenaged children of the great English
composer, Henry Purcell, they are sent on a quest which takes them by boat to the
Italian city of Venice, and then to France, where they visit the palace of Versailles,
outside of Paris. Students can locate London, Venice, Paris and Versailles on a map
of Europe.
What composers will we hear in the concert?
The two most famous composers whose works will be heard are Henry Purcell and
Antonio Vivaldi.
Henry Purcell was born in London in 1659. For his entire life he lived within
walking distance of Westminster Abbey, the great cathedral where English kings
and queens are crowned. Purcell became the organist of Westminster Abbey just
before his twenty-first birthday and when he died at the tragically young age of 36
he was buried there at the foot of the organ.
Purcell had been a boy soprano in the choir of the king's chapel, where he was
given lessons in singing, violin, organ and composition. He showed such youthful
talent as a composer that at 18 he was appointed special composer to King Charles
II. He remained in the employ of the royal family for the rest of his life.
His compositions include hundreds of works for every type of musical occasion. He
wrote anthems and cantatas for church services, songs for solo singers, and
instrumental works for organ, harpsichord and string ensembles.
Toward the end of his life he began to compose more and more music for the
theatre, which was extremely popular in London at this time. The works by Purcell
in our programme are all pieces of incidental music from theatrical works.
The concert will open with the overture to the Purcell's music drama, "King
Arthur". Baroque overtures were divided into two sections - the first, a slow, stately
processional, was designed for the formal entrance of the King or Queen into the
theatre. The second, more lively section set the stage for the adventures to follow.
The other short pieces by Henry Purcell on our concert are rhythmic and tuneful
dance pieces reminiscent of the English popular music of the time.
Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice, the beautiful Italian city of canals, gondolas
and carnivals. On March 4, 1678, the day of his birth, an earthquake shook the city.
The baby was not expected to live long because of a lung ailment, but he survived
for 63 years to become one of the most important composers of the baroque period.
Ordained at the age of 25, Vivaldi had red hair and was known as the "red priest".
Like many baroque composers he was famous as a virtuoso performer - people
came to Venice from all over to hear him play the violin.
He was also famous as a teacher. He was associated for most of his career with an
orphanage in Venice which trained young girls in singing and instrumental music.
Many of his most famous works were composed for an orchestra of girls and young
women at this institution.
Vivaldi's most beloved composition today is The Four Seasons, a set of four violin
concertos depicting the weather and activities of the changing seasons. We will be
performing the first movement of "Winter", which depicts the following piece of
Frozen and trembling in
the chilly snow
Exposed to horrible
We run and stamp
our feet
(the instrumental parts enter one
at a time with staccato repeated
notes and violin trills
representing shivers)
(the solo violin enters with wild
arpeggios representing the wind)
(a repeated "stamping" motif in
the orchestra)
Our teeth chatter in the extreme
(tremelo double stops
in the solo violin)
If you have a chance to listen to this movement on a CD try to pick out these
special effects which Vivaldi uses to represent chattering, shivering and winds.