Austin Baroque Orchestra Steps Back In Musical Time | Texas Public Radio

Austin Baroque Orchestra Steps Back In Musical Time

May 19, 2015

An Austin-based orchestra and chorus manage to get to San Antonio two or three times a year for a performance. TPR’s Arts and Culture Reporter Jack Morgan spoke to its Artistic Director.

It’s the Austin Baroque Orchestra and Chorus, and he’s Billy Traylor. What he’s bringing Sunday is a big show.

“There are 16 singers.  And the orchestra has about twenty.”

And there’s something else that sets this group apart.

“We play music from the eighteenth century on replica instrument from the eighteenth century. String instruments that use Baroque-style bows and gut string—strings made out of sheep gut or a synthetic imitation. And then our brass, they’re the ones that are most obviously different because they have no valves on them.  And then we use historic keyboards—harpsichords, small organs.”

They’re playing on duplicate instruments from the era, and they’re playing music from the era, too.

"We’ll be doing Handel’s Oratorio Esther.”

It’s one that, after originally written, might never have been performed in London, if one man had his way. 

“The Bishop of London got wind of this idea and told Handel that the presentation of Biblical stories on the stage was expressly forbidden, and that he in no way, shape or form would be allowed to present any story from the Bible as though it were an opera.”

But Handel outfoxed him by deciding this: "We’ll do it in the opera house and on the stage, but we won’t stage it."

The performance takes place on Sunday, May 24th at 4PM at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Downtown San Antonio.

We've more on Austin Baroque Orchestra here.