April 28, 2019: We teamed up with artist Victor Varnado, cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine to present Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantata, “Le Sommeil d’Ulisse” (“Slumber of Ulysses”).

Who the heck was Ulisses? There were the ancient Greek myths, with their own roster of gods, and then the ancient Romans with THEIR roster. So the Greeks had Zeus and Hera, and the Romans had Jupiter and Juno, Athena (get it ATHENS / Athena) became the Roman Minerva, and Odysseus became Ulysses (you say “poh-tay-toe” and I say “poh-tah-toe”)

Synopsis: Frat boy Ulysses & his men, hijinks on the open sea, blinds the Cyclops Polyphemus (son of the god, Neptune). Neptune is pissed off, and sends a tempest. Cut to commercial, the goddess Minerva intervenes and puts Ulysses into a magical sleep, where he dreams about his glorious future. Et voilà ! an HEA (Happily Ever After). Susan Graham, flute; Claire Bermingham, violin; Ana Kim, cello; Nancy Kito, harpsichord; Christina Kay, soprano; artist Victor Varnado (cartoonist, the New Yorker).

Watch the tempest scene here:


Ensemble Leonarda is pleased this season to feature concerts with “Friends”, guest musicians from VA, PA, and Montreal, Canada.

First up is Curt C. Christensen, former principal trumpeter of the U.S. Air Force Concert Band. Nancy Kito recounts their first meeting.

NANCY: I first met Curt when he was 19 and a student at Juilliard. I was organist for a small Lutheran church in Astoria, Queens, & you know, these little churches have a little extra $$ for special music at Christmas and Easter. I booked Curt through the Juilliard Placement Office, and we were to meet at Juilliard in the lobby. Now, this is before the Internet, smartphones, and Facebook. We were actually standing about 3 feet apart next to each other, looking out for each other, till I finally noticed his instrument case and asked, “Hey, are you Curt?”

Curt C. Christensen, trumpet

The piece was the Telemann Concerto in D Major, and so we started rehearsing. After the first run-through, I said, “Wow, that’s awesome, but do you think we could slow down the first movement?” and we did. Then I asked for it even slower, because “You know, I have this recording stuck in my head and I really liked the interpretation.” Finally, Curt put down his instrument and asked, “So, can I ask which recording you have?” and I said, “Oh, it’s by some French guy named Maurice André”.

Curt almost passed out [for those of you unfamiliar, Maurice André is the trumpet god, he’s like the Jordi Savall, the Itzhak Perlman, the Yo-Yo Ma of trumpeters]. We never did play it that slowly! (but we were a success nonetheless). I lost track of him but then by chance the USAF Concert Band was playing a concert at the Tilles Center where I was the House Manager, and we’ve kept in touch ever since.

We’re pleased to be reprising the Telemann Concerto as well as a Torelli, concerto, and a piece I’d not heard of before, “Aria di Postiglione” from the Capriccio on the departure of a beloved brother - BWV 992 (an early work) by J.S. Bach.

Concert: T3 [Telemann, Torelli, & Trumpet]. Sun. Dec. 2, 2018 at 4:00pm at St. Michael’s Church, 225 W. 99th Street, NYC. Info: bit.ly/1VHLOJe 

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Ensemble Leonarda, along with Adam Grannick & his Filmelodic, was pleased to be part of GroupMuse MassiveMuse on May 24, at MayDay Space in Brooklyn.  It was a three-peat of our joint live music + film project (the film being "La Folia").

Filmelodic is an award-winning collective that makes short, narrative films to accompany beloved works of classical music to give the crowd an immersive, multi-sensual experience.   that takes you in so close to this music. 

The program also featured Johan Halvorsen’s Sarabande with Variations, accompanied by Brooklyn-based visual artist Lila Nadelmann creating original art live to the music. Followed by JS Bach’s beloved Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major. The finale was Filmelodic's award-winning short film La Folia, set to a Concerto Grosso in D minor by Francesco Geminiani, performed live along side the film, which has been screened all over the country.

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On Nov. 2, 2017 at The National Opera Center, Ensemble Leonarda presented a concert in collaboration with Adam Grannick's Filmelodic "La Folia" project.  A 12-minute visual anthology of 24 vignettes, featuring live music of Francesco Geminiani.  The concert also featured works by some of the 150 other baroque composers who wrote works on the theme.

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AuthorEnsemble Leonarda