Students perform at Berkeley Music Festival & Exhibition

Students practice in Harkness Chapel prior to leaving for Berkeley, Calif.

A group of young early music performers from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Music have earned a stage appearance at the prestigious 2012 Berkeley Music Festival as part of Early Music America Young Performers Concerts.

The local musicians presented “Milk and Honey: Sumptuous Music of the Seventeenth Century,” a program of music focused on the theme of desire, June 8 in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley, Calif. Their performance was one of the six, one-hour performances given during the festival’s young performers series.

The theme of desire itself may be as old as the ages, but “composers before the late 16th century tended to depict it from a safe distance rather than seeking to generate its potentially overwhelming potentialities in real time,” said Tracy Cowart, a Case Western Reserve doctoral student in historical performance practices.

The desire and its ecstasy were portrayed through the music of Antonio Bertali, Henrich Biber, Giovanni Battista Fontana, Tarquinio Merula, Claudio Monteverdi, Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Heinrich Schutz.

Cowart, a mezzo-soprano, is among the performers selected to sing in the festival, and has been hailed by the New York Times as “the real attraction” with a voice that is “light and lithe.”

Others among Cleveland’s acclaimed and talented artists who performed at Berkeley were Elena Mullins and Sian Ricketts, sopranos; Christine Wilkinson, violin; John Romey, viola da gamba, violone; and Paula Maust, harpsichord.  Also joining the group as a guest artist was former Case Western Reserve music student, now at the Peabody Music Conservatory, Brian Kay on the archlute.

Music department faculty members Julie Andrijeski and Debra Nagy (who also performed in another concert at the festival) directed the group in preparing for this performance.

The student trip was made possible with support from Early Music America, Case Western Reserve University faculty members Duffin and Susan McClary and the College of Arts and Sciences. Charlie Ogle of the Charlie Ogle Workshop provided the historical violone for use at the festival.