Baroque Dreams: Reuniting Friends With Music That Speaks to the Moment
|Anne Harley||Moshe Shulman|
Joni Mitchell once sang: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.”
Musicians and music fans alike learned that was true this past year when in-person performances ground to a halt and we were all left to our own devices with only buffer-interrupted live streams, our own shower arias -- or recorded music -- to fill the void.
On June 27, soprano Anne Harley and a handful of other world-class musicians will come to Artpark’s Emerald Grove to answer the question vexing so many of us.
“What is the meaning of live and in-person versus a recorded performance?” posited Harley during my Zoom call with her and multi-instrumentalist Moshe Shulman. We covered a range of topics about their upcoming performance, including the re-evaluation of live music, post-pandemic.
“Maybe people didn’t notice that difference before the pandemic,” she continued. “But during it, I’m sure many experienced recording fatigue and have since come to re-value what live performance brings. They didn’t realize how valuable it was until it was gone.”
The Sunday afternoon concert Baroque Dreams is part of Artpark’s summer-long, outdoor concert series New Music in the Park. Along with Harley and Shulman, Baroque guitarist and lutenist Kenneth Kam, keyboardist Ivan Docenko and basso continuo player Jonathan Golove will present a program that includes pieces by Bach, Vivaldi, Dowland and by Shulman himself. “Song of Songs (Shir Ha Shirim)” won the violinist and composer the prestigious Fromm Composition Commission from Harvard in 2015. Shulman joined the call from his home in Buffalo, where he is on the Music Faculty at University at Buffalo, and Harley from hers in Claremont, California, where she teaches voice, music history and interdisciplinary humanities at Scripps College.
“I’m not sure folks in the [Western New York] region understand, because he’s so humble, the tremendous talent and gift that lives among them in Buffalo,” Harley said.
Shulman and Harley’s friendship goes back more than a decade. It was Harley who first commissioned Shulman to write the award-winning piece for voice and violin in 2013, suggesting that the Russian-born, Israeli composer set texts about female spiritual leaders from the Tanakh in his native language, Hebrew. The initial goal was to include the work in Harley’s recording project, Voices of the Pearl.
Shulman eventually submitted the composition to the Fromm, which ultimately led to his being awarded the commission to develop a longer work on which Harley sings, called Seven Prophetesses.
Harley talked about how essential it is for people to have public spaces to gather and congregate in “discourse and music.” She added that venues like Artpark are crucial lifelines for freelance artists, providing seed money and, ultimately, a springboard they can use to plan additional collaborations, and even tours. Harley and Shulman, themselves, hope to build on the June 27th performance with a Fall 2021 tour that would include stops in Rochester and Buffalo.
Despite being called Baroque Dreams, the performance will stay true to the “new music” ethos of the series and remind visitors that what’s old is new again. One of the instruments Kenneth Kam will play is a 16th-century archlute with a giraffe-sized neck. As Shulman pointed out …
“The theorbo is something most in the audience will probably not have seen or heard before. So, it will be new music to them!”
Audience members can expect to hear music that has a very human and moving connection to today's events.
“We're planning to perform music composed by John Dowland during a plague in England in the 16th century. We chose that music because it resonates with what we’ve been experiencing during the pandemic.”
Harley said the June 27 show will also resonate with her on a personal note, albeit a much happier one.
“I’ll get to see my dear friend, Moshe, who I’ve known for 16 years but haven’t seen in person for more than a year. And I’ll get to meet his newborn son for the first time!” (Ed. note: Young Emmanuel Shulman rested comfortably on his dad’s shoulder throughout much of our Zoom call).
Baroque Dreams will take place Sunday, June 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. on Artpark’s outdoor Emerald Grove stage.
Tickets: $12 - Click here to purchase