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Friday, August 29, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Madison Music Project -- Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble

Credit:Evaristo Baschenis

Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble.

Dedicating itself to sustaining 17th- and 18th-Century European chamber music through performance, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble is composed of a rotating company of vocalists and instrumentalists. Its members are based in Madison and Beloit, and perform several times per year in each city. The group plays on period instruments no longer in wide use, focused upon performing lesser-known works and composers in a "historically informed manner."

The musicians that make up the ensemble are listed in its registry bio:

Regular performers with WBE are: Mimmi Fulmer (soprano), Consuelo Sanudo (mezzo-soprano), Edith Hines (violin), Brett Lipshutz (traverso), Rebecca Meier (traverso), Monica Steger (traverso), Cynthia Cameron-Fix (baroque bassoon), Max Yount (harpsichord), Duncan Pledger (viola da gamba), and Anton TenWolde (baroque cello)

The ensemble typically plays a few concerts a year in Madison, nearly always at the Gates of Heaven, one of the oldest surviving synagogues in the country . Located at the southern corner of James Madison Park on East Gorham and North Butler streets, the tiny stone structure providing a very intimate setting for music. Their shows at the Gates of Heaven are described by the group as "relaxed, informal, and often informative." In addition to its homes near Lake Mendota and the Rock River, the ensemble also performs elsewhere throughout southern Wisconsin, including colleges, parks and festivals.

While there isn't much more information available online about ensemble, there is plenty more about Baroque music, and the well-over 300 composers generally included in the Baroque canon, from Agazarri to de Zumaya, from J.S. Bach to G.F. Handel. The image above is a 17th Century painting by Evaristo Baschenis, an Italian Baroque artist reputed for his musical instrument still life creations. This particular work features the hurdy gurdy (a kind of mechanical violin), violin, lute and baroque guitar.

The ensemble is kicking off a busy holiday weekend of not-quite early music with their regular pair of shows in Beloit and Madison. They start out with a Thanksgiving performance on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 25.

There are six members of the ensemble performing at the show: Consuelo Sanudo (mezzo-soprano), Monica Steger (traverso), Cynthia Cameron-Fix (baroque bassoon), Anton TenWolde (baroque cello), Max Yount (harpsichord), and Duncan Pledger (viola da gamba). This particular concert will feature compositions by the following Baroque composers (with their eras and nationalities in parentheses): Claudio Monteverdi (early Italian), Michel Pignolet. de MontÃclair (middle French), Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (late French), Jean Barriere (late French), Jakob Kleinknecht (late German), and William Byrd (early English). This Gates of Heaven performance is their final scheduled appearance of the year.

This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.

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