The Austin Baroque Orchestra comes to San Antonio two or three times a year. I spoke to their artistic director to find out what sets them apart; mostly it’s the instruments they use to make the music they play. Like this one: a theorbo.
"Theorbo: it’s a really large lute with really large bass strings on it,” said Billy Traylor.
“It usually sticks up a good three or four feet above the head of the person playing it. It’s a very long-necked instrument.”
Some of instruments are unfamiliar, but the music they make doesn’t sound so different.
“We are going to be playing a concert we call Waterworks: four pieces that are inspired by, or somehow connected to water," Traylor said. "It’ll be four full orchestral pieces, one of which will be one of the suites from Handel’s ‘Water Music.’ ”
The Austin Baroque Orchestra is known, amongst other things, for playing period music on period instruments. Traylor gave me the details of this week's performance.
“The concert’s going to be Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran downtown," he said. "And the ticket costs are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors. It’ll be $5 for students at the door if they just show up with ID.”
Traylor said if you show up a little early there’s a treat for you.
“There’s also a really informal pre-concert 20-or-so-minute talk that begins about 30 minutes before,” he said.
I asked him if the pre-concert talk is essentially an explanation of what people are going to hear and an explanation of the instruments.
“Pretty much, yeah. I try to get a feel for how many people in the audience are new to the idea of period instruments, and if enough of them are I try to explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it," he said. "We explain to them how the music just seems to speak a little better on those old instruments.”
Hear the story of how Handel wrote Water Music, and then hear the music itself.
- Learn more about the Austin Baroque Orchestra at: austinbaroqueorchestra.org