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Public, Students to Learn About Early Music from Ensemble

Modern Musick  John Moran, left, and Risa Browder, the husband-and-wife team that leads the Modern Musick ensemble, will host their first Georgetown concert Oct. 12 as part of the university's music series.

October 9, 2012 – Four free concerts of musicians playing instruments used in the 17th and 18th centuries and master classes for students will be part of an October-to-March ensemble’s residency in the Georgetown University Music Program.

Now in its 10th season, the Modern Musick ensemble, led by husband-and-wife team John Moran and Risa Browder, is known to audiences for its lively historical performance practices.

Browder, for example, plays a violin made in Austria in 1641 while Moran plays a cello made in Amsterdam in 1710.

The group takes its name from an 18th-century primer The Modern Musick-Master or the Universal Musician. Modo is Latin for “just now,” they note, so the root of the word modern is “the perfect description for cutting-edge music making of the moment,” according to the ensemble.

Unprecedented Opportunity

“To this end Modern Musick uses historical performance practices as a starting point, keeping alive the immediacy of ancient music,” Moran explains in an email.

“It is an unprecedented opportunity for our students to be exposed and to learn about early music,” says Anthony DelDonna, director of the Georgetown music program. “The residency also supports our curricular mission to provide a thorough grounding in diverse music traditions.

“I hope that it will also encourage the establishment of our own student-led early music ensemble.”

Jesuits and Music

DelDonna says he’s grateful to the Jesuit community, “which has such a rich history of musical patronage,” and the Gerace Family for supporting the residency.

“The Jesuit community is happy to support the program granting the Society of Jesus’ enduring commitment to the arts,” says Rev. Eugene Nolan, S.J., community administrator, “and because our home is able to provide a splendid venue for the musical performances we've hosted in the last few years.”

Firsthand Exposure

“The residency will also benefit the surrounding community, who can attend the concerts to experience challenging and rarely heard repertoire on period instruments,” DelDonna adds.  “The concerts offer firsthand exposure to the authentic sound style and performance practice of music by Bach, Corelli, Torelli, Vivaldi and others.”

Moran appears on a regular basis as a soloist and chamber musician on baroque and classical cello as well as the viola da gamba (a bowed and fretted instrument played during the Renaissance and Baroque periods) and Browder plays violin, viola, and viola d’amore (a seven- or six-stringed instrument also used in the Baroque period).

Both artists, who have performed throughout the United States and Europe, received professional training at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland, and are on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

Classically ‘H.I.P’

“The truth is some ensembles are simply more H.I.P than others,” guest blogger Logan K. Young wrote about the ensemble in a July post for the Baltimore Sun. “And the really great ones, well, they study at least as much as they rehearse.”

The “H.I.P." in the article refers to “Historically Informed Performance.”

Other artists in the ensemble include violinist Leslie Nero and harpsichordist Adam Pearl.

First Concert

The first Modern Musick performance takes place at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, in Dahlgren Chapel as part of the university’s Friday Music Series.

Titled “Venezia, mi amore!” the Oct. 12 concert features works by Vivaldi, Marcello, Albinoni, Uccellini, Cima, Castello, and Legrenzi, and will be followed by a question-and-answer period with the artists.

For additional concerts by Modern Musick and other artists, please visit the Georgetown Department of Performing Events website.

Georgetown University37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057(202) 687.0100

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