Kansas City Baroque Consortium Presents Music from the Court at Versailles, August 17

The Kansas City Baroque Consortium is excited to present our final concert on our summer series, this coming Friday, August 17, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in KCMO. Our concert’s theme explores the court of Louis XIV through music dating from the French Baroque (ca. 1600-1750). We are an historically-informed performance ensemble, meaning that we play with instruments and equipment that are modeled after instruments of the Baroque period; it also means that we perform using musical techniques that would have been common practice historically. However, we don’t just play old music. We are also dedicated to supporting living composers and newly composed works. On our final concert, we have the special pleasure to perform the premiere of a new piece written by Dr. Anthony Maglione of William Jewell College. This work is entitled I Am Silent, and is a setting of a poem by Jalalu’d-din Rumi, scored for a small choir as well as two flutes, two violins, viola, and a basso continuo section. I corresponded with Dr. Maglione about his piece, and his experiences writing for an historically-informed ensemble.

Alison DeSimone: What styles or genres of music do you typically compose in and why?

Anthony Maglione: That is a tricky question to answer. Most recently, my commissions have been for concert works for various levels and types of ensembles. The commissioning parties have been most often choirs or choral festivals, but many have had significant instrumental writing involved in the process. For example, I was one of the commissioned composers for the American Guild of Organists National Conference this past July, and that work was scored for chamber orchestra, chorus, and soloists. In the past, I have composed video game music, pop songs, and even a theme song for a short-lived self-help video for a colleague in LA. I don’t have a great deal of time to compose just for myself, so I am usually composing for whatever parameters are provided me by the commissioning party. However, I am taking time this year to finish writing a concerto for two trumpets that I have been working on in between commissions for the last two years.

AD: What was it like composing something for an early music ensemble?

AM: It has been both a challenge and a great deal of fun. Ultimately, it was not my goal to write a “Baroque” piece of music. So I was challenged to capture gestures and articulations that were idiomatic for early instruments while keeping as much of my compositional voice intact as possible. On the one hand, I’ve performed and worked with Trilla [Ray-Carter] and KCBC [Kansas City Baroque Consortium] many times, so I’m very familiar with how they play. However, I still found myself having to rein in my instrumental writing to accommodate for shorter bow strokes, narrower ranges, and the softer resonance of early music instruments with their gut strings, concave bows, wooden flutes, and so on. This is my first attempt at composing for this type of ensemble, so I’m glad that I am writing for colleagues whom I respect a great deal.

AD: How does your piece connect to the French Baroque music featured on the program?

AM: I Am Silent is a setting of a poem by famed Sufi poet Jalal al-din Rumi. I chose this text because it complements the setting of Psalm 84 in Rameau’s grand motet, Quam dilecta tabernacula, which will also be performed on the program. The final verse of Rameau’s work translates to “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee,” while Rumi writes, “I am silent. Speak Thou, O Soul of Soul of Soul, from desire of whose face every atom grew articulate.” I believe the Rumi poem illustrates this “trust” in the almighty referenced in Psalm 84 by being silent and waiting for a higher power to provide answers. That is why I chose to set I Am Silent with the same voicing and instrumentation as the Rameau motet.

–Dr. Alison DeSimone, Assistant Professor of Musicology, UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance

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