The period instrument group Ensemble Leonarda will be performing at St. John-St. Matthew-Emanuel Lutheran Church (283 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn) on Sunday, May 17 at 4:00pm. Pianist and freelance journalist Casey Ann Reinke interviews harpsichordist Nancy Kito.
For those readers who are not musicians, what is baroque music?
Briefly put, it's music composed 1685-1750.
Why play in Brooklyn? I mean, if you say Brooklyn, it conjures up images of hipsters and good food and the Museum and Grand Army Plaza and Coney Island, not necessarily classical baroque music!
Ensemble Leonarda is a sponsored project of the service organization Fractured Atlas and every year we do 1 outreach concert (somewhere that isn't Manhattan), to places that don't usually get to hear that kind of music. Last year we were in Hoboken, NJ, and this year we're playing at Brooklyn’s historic St. JME Lutheran church, 3 churches that merged, the oldest of which was founded in 1859.
How is this concert different from other classical music concerts, and why should people want to go?
We try and present good music in a non-stuffy way that engages everyone, musicians and non-musicians alike. Look, I'm a conservatory graduate and sometimes I go to my friends' concerts, and even I would be afraid to ask a question! It’s hard to strike a balance between oversimplifying (in which case any musicians in the audience are bored) and having a “traditional” concert (where people are too intimidated to actually enjoy it). We explain things like: “If it’s a trio sonata, why are 4 people playing?” and “Why do organists wear funny shoes?”
The trend nowadays is to have a “theme”. Our theme is “A Baroque Band in Brooklyn!”, which is going to sound more interesting to the average Joe than “Glorious Wonders of the Transalpine Baroque Cantata”. We’re musicians playing pieces which move us, and hopefully the audience will want to go home afterwards and Google keywords to learn more about the music that we played.
On this concert, there's literally something for everybody. The church's organ is in front, so you can see it, instead of it being hidden in the back up in the loft. I’ll be doing a brief speech/demo about organs and you can actually see it up close. Most people have seen a piano before, but an organ and what makes it tick? There's a soprano, and both a cello AND a viola da gamba. Plus Brooklynite Rob Paravonian on guitar. (Seriously!)