Bolivian Baroque and the man who saved the music at Organ Barn Concert


Bolivian Baroque Archivist to Speak at May 29 Organ Barn Concert

Guilford, Vt. - Friends of Music at Guilford (FOMAG), now in its 50th Anniversary Season, has been presenting a series of programs with Baroque-era works from Bolivia that have been hidden away for centuries. Since presenting the new, the unusual, and the underperformed is a central mission of the organization, this project has been a fitting element of its half-century season.

The third and final event in the series is on Sunday, May 29, at 3 p.m. in the intimate barn at Tree Frog Farm, where FOMAG now hosts concerts on both Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends. Located off Packer Corners Rd. in idyllic rural Guilford, the barn is home to the organization's c. 1897 Tracker Organ. One of FOMAG's founders, the late A. Graham Down (1929-2014), purchased the instrument in Maine, moved it to the barn, invested in its restoration and improvements over the years, and performed the first concerts on it.

The May 29 program consists of trio sonatas, motets, and songs with both Latin and Spanish texts, all by anonymous 18th-century Bolivian composers. Featured performers include organist Ken Olsson, soprano Marietta Formanek, cellist Pedro Pereira, violinist Amy Cann, a few other Guilford Chamber players, and a quartet of Guilford Chamber Singers including the group's director Tom Baehr.

The program begins with remarks by the weekend's special guest, Fr. Piotr Nawrot, the Polish priest and musicologist who has made reclamation of Bolivian Baroque music his life's mission. Beginning in the early 1990s, he tracked down and collected well over 10,000 pages of original material, some in desperate condition, promising to protect it from further deterioration by placing it in climate-controlled storage. He then spent a couple of decades preparing an impressive sampling of the archive for publication and performance by modern-day musicians.

To bring this music back to life, Fr. Nawrot not only put it in the hands of native Bolivians in schools throughout the country but also founded an International Festival of American Renaissance & Baroque Music. This spring's 11th biennial gathering hosted performances in two dozen venues with musicians from ten European countries, Korea, the United States, and several South American nations. Friends of Music is pleased to be introducing some of this newly rediscovered music, as well as the man responsible for its resurrection, to this culturally rich corner of Vermont.

The May 29 concert is followed by an optional holiday cookout on the back deck and lawn. There will be grilling options for carnivores and vegetarians alike and assorted salads, sides, sips, and sundaes with classic toppings; attendees are welcome to bring their preferred picnic beverage.

Admission to the concert is $15 per person; the meal is an additional $10 per person. Reservations are useful for food planning. Contact the office at 802-254-3600 or; visit online at Media support for Friends of Music at Guilford's 50th Anniversary Season events is provided by Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Arts Council.


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