Festival Williamsburg to Bring ‘A Baroque Celebration’ to Historic Triangle

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The Handel & Haydn Society will be one of many groups performing in the area in May for the Virginia Arts Festival (Photo courtesy of Virginia Arts Festival)
The Handel & Haydn Society will be one of many groups performing in the area in May for the Virginia Arts Festival (Photo courtesy of Virginia Arts Festival)

The music that filled the air in Western Civilization’s palaces and performance halls during the 17th and 18th centuries will be performed in a series of local concerts through the weekend.

The shows are part of the Virginia Arts Festival’s annual Festival Williamsburg. This year’s theme, “A Baroque Celebration,” boasts a lengthy roster of baroque-style musicians.

The baroque genre and the early stages of the classical genre that it proceeded were the musical styles du jour from when the Historic Triangle was first settled through Williamsburg’s days as a revolutionary hotbed.

From Thursday through Sunday, performers will play that music at venues throughout the area. The idea to focus on baroque music came out of brainstorming sessions between festival organizers and staffers from the City of Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg.

The actions starts Thursday with Andre-Michel Schub and the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players. They will come together at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Williamsburg Winery to play a so-called “coffee concert,” meaning a show in an intimate setting where the audience gets a front row performance followed by the chance to interact with the performers. Tickets are $20.

Later that night, the a cappella male vocal ensemble Cantus will play a show at 7:30 p.m. at Bruton Parish Church. Tickets cost $30.

Another coffee concert will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Williamsburg Winery featuring the Quicksilver Ensemble. The group is known for playing music from the early modern period, with selections from Neri, Bertali, Castello, Fontana, Weckmann, Kerll and Vierdanck. Tickets are $20.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, the Handle and Haydn Society will take to the stage at the Williamsburg Lodge with 17th- and 18th-century period instruments. The 200-year-old group is the oldest continually performing musical ensemble in the U.S. They will play hits including Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and Cello. Tickets start at $35.

The festival concludes at 7 p.m. Sunday when celebrated baroque conductor Nicholas McGegan will appear at the Williamsburg Lodge with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. He will lead the orchestra in performances of several noted works by Handel including Music for the Royal Fireworks and Water Music. The performance will also touch on Handel’s operas including Giulio Cesare, Orlando and Teseo. Tickets start at $35.

Festival Williamsburg is the Historic Triangle component of the Virginia Arts Festival. The festival is a two-month affair that brings artistic performances all over Hampton Roads.

For information on purchasing tickets to any of the shows, visit the festival’s website.

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