Regional Spotlight: Lyra Baroque

by Steve Staruch, Minnesota Public Radio
September 22, 2009

St. Paul, Minn. — It's a weekend full of anniversary celebrations for Lyra Baroque. The Twin Cities based baroque ensemble known as the "North Star of Period Instruments" kicks off their 25th season with the music of two baroque giants for which 2009 also has special meaning: Henry Purcell and George Frederic Handel.

On Thursday's Regional Spotlight on Classical Minnesota Public Radio, harpsichordist Jacques Ogg will perform Jean-Marie Leclair's Sonata no. 5 in G major for flute and basso continuo. Joining Ogg are baroque flutist Wilbert Hazelzet and baroque cellist Jaap ter Linden, from Lyra Baroque's 2008 season.

Lyra Baroque gave their first performance in the spring of 1985. At their beginnings, Lyra Baroque was named "The Lyra Concert." While their name has changed, their mission to play "the highest quality performances of 17th and 18th century music" remains the same.

Since that 1985 concert, Lyra Baroque has performed regularly in Saint Paul and Rochester. The string players in the ensemble use strings made of raw gut, rather than the metal ones used on modern instruments. Wind players perform on thin-walled wooden flutes and oboes, and trumpets have no valves. The resulting sound replicates what Purcell and Handel were accustomed to in their time.

To cap off the anniversary weekend, Lyra Baroque will also commemorate the 350th birthday of English composer Henry Purcell and the death of George Frederic Handel 250 years ago. Both men are buried at Westminster Abbey in London, England.

Lyra Baroque performs at Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester on Friday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the ensemble performs in Saint Paul at Sundin Hall at Hamline University at 8:00 p.m.

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