Entering Telemann's world

Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble

BRATTLEBORO — Staying true to the era, the Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble will play instruments of the Baroque period during an upcoming string of concerts.

Bows and strings used on the violins and cellos vary from those used today, according to artistic director Timothy Merton.

"So it has quite a different sound than you would get from a modern instrument," he said.

Merton, who grew up in Putney, is getting ready alongside Jennifer Morsches for the first of four performances in New England. The ensemble of leading British period instrumentalists will be at the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit sarasamusic.org/concerts. Admission costs $15. But Merton said the price tag should not prevent people from coming. Arrangements can be made to make attendance affordable.

The concert series, "Telemann and his World," celebrates the composer Georg Philipp Telemann with music from his French, Italian and German predecessors and contemporaries. Selections were chosen from Telemann, J.S. Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Jean-Baptiste Lully, George Frideric Handel and Andre Campra. Other concerts will be held in Boston, Mass., and New Hampshire.

The series is special because it commemorates the anniversary of Telemann's death 250 years ago, Morsches told the Reformer. The German multi-instrumentalist, known as a prolific composer, died on June 25, 1767.

"He was one of the most popular composers of his days," Morsches said, calling the concerts "a chance for three couples who are friends to come together."

Morsches and Merton just tied the knot. Their wedding, held in Putney, saw the bride and groom enter the ceremony via zipline.

Now, all three couples involved in the concerts are married. One of the pieces, "Rondeau et Seconde Air" by Lully is from the opera "Le Mariage Force," which translates to "the arranged marriage."

"It's sort of tongue and cheek," said Morsches, noting that the musicians have all worked together in the United Kingdom and United States.

The concert is expected to last about two hours altogether. Sarasa is based out of Cambridge, Mass.

Outreach is another area of focus for the group. In May and August, presentations were made at lock-up treatment centers for teens in the Boston area. Three-day residencies saw some unlikely interactions.

"It's an unusual thing for these kids to be hearing this music because most of them never heard anything like it," Merton said. "Their world is rap music. It kind of opens their eyes and ears to something different. They can even fit it into their music sometimes, their rap, which is really fun."

Merton's group joined in with the rapping and poetry. "That's pretty cool work, really," he said.

Merton and Morsches are both cellists. Morsches also plays the piccolo cello, a five-stringed instrument found during the Baroque period. They will share the stage with Annabel Knight, who plays recorders and flute; Richard Earle, oboe player who like Merton attended the Putney School; violinist Alison Bury; and Robin Bigwood, who plays harpsichord.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.


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