February 4, 8:00 p.m.
Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton Street)
In collaboration with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Early Music Society of the Islands, Early Music Vancouver embarks on yet another Northwest Baroque Masterworks project to bring all of us some wonderful classical music. The Northwest Baroque Masterworks project this time will focus on Joseph Bolougne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a man of African descent who overcame adversity and prejudice to become a major musical star of the 18th century.
Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was a champion fencer, virtuoso violinist, composer and conductor born in Guadalupe. Little is known about his musical education until composers Antonio Lolli and François Gossec dedicated works to Saint-Georges, revealing that the master fencer was also a master of the bow and strings. It is conjectured that Lolli aided de Saint-Georges in polishing his violin technique, while Gossec taught him how to compose. Saint-Georges composed many works including Opéra comiques, vocal works, violin concerti, symphonies, instrumental sonatas and string quartets. His musical career was cut short with the dawning of the French Revolution, but he went on to be a master tactician, leading a 100-strong troop of Black soldiers who fought for equality.
The program at the Vancouver Playhouse will feature two sets of concerti composed by Saint-Georges, a concerto by Leclair, and symphonies by Mozart and Haydn. De Saint-Georges’ Concerto for 2 violins and strings will feature violinists Chloe Meyers and Linda Melsted, while Leclair’s Concerto for Violin and Strings and Saint-Georges’ Concerto for Violin and Orchestra will feature special guest violinist Monica Huggett. There will also be a free open-to-public screening of the Canadian-made documentary (CBC) on Saint-Georges’ life, featuring Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra at 6:30 p.m.
The works by Mozart and Haydn are meant to both round out the program and also act as a source of comparison and contrast to Saint-Georges’ compositions. Hopefully, by attending the performance, audience members will realize the genius that is Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
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