THE ‘ROLLING STONES’ OF EARLY MUSIC

11 Oct

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Houston Early Music launches its season with that notorious renegade of the recorder, Piers Adams, and his famed UK-based group, Red Priest, presenting Nightmare in Venice, just in time for Halloween. The show is Tuesday October 27, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church. 

A rock star of the early music genre, Adams is known for bending the rules and for high theatrics. “We don’t set out to cause trouble, honestly,” quips Red Priest’s artistic director. “But we do like to shake off all of those early music straitjackets and preconceptions, so that we’re no longer bound by a fear of what the composer—long dead as he is—might think.” 

According to Houston Early Music artistic director Nancy Ellis, Red Priest is a bit like early music gone wild. “They are known for being way out there,” says Ellis. “They will most definitely add some spice to our programming.” The program includes Vivaldi’s Nightmare Concerto, Tartini’s Devil’s Trill sonata, Masque music by Robert Johnson, Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Leclair’s Demon Airs and Red Priest’s own Fantasia on Corelli’s La Follia 

“Expect some Halloween flavor,” says Adams. “Taking Vivaldi’s spooky and dramatic concerto La Notte as a place to begin, we will explore the myriad themes of fantasy, myth and horror in the Baroque, not forgetting that the word ‘baroque’ itself means strange, bizarre and irregular.” Red Priest really lets it go in Corelli’s La Follia. “Using this famous ground as a starting point, and Corelli’s variations as a loose structure, we pass through many musical styles from gypsy to Indian to modern jazz,” adds Adams.  

Some of the fun ingredients in the Red Priest mix include creating their own original arrangements, incorporating stylistic elements from the world and folk music realms, bringing out stories and drama in the music, and wildly colorful costumes. Adams has been referred to as early music’s version of The Rolling Stones, and he doesn’t mind the comparison in the least. “We definitely want to shake things up,” says Adams. “We want to find the most eye- and ear-catching ways to present what we consider to be some of the most fantastic music ever written to the widest possible audience, even if that does mean stretching the boundaries a little.”  Adams will give a pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m. 

Prices at the door are $35 for general admission, $30 for seniors, and $10 for students (with student ID.) Free admission for children under 15. Season subscription rates for the season: $120 for general admission, $100 for seniors, and $40 for students. To subscribe, go to HoustonEarlyMusic.org/subscribe to print out the subscription form. For more information about Houston Early Music, visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org, e-mail info@HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 713-432-1744. 

One of the nation’s oldest early music organizations, and as the city’s only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music epitomizes a movement that has swept the world of classical music. Officially incorporated in 1969, the nonprofit provides performance opportunities for up-and-coming and major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series. 

A successful and growing educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and by Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.

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