Oberlin Baroque Ensemble Works with Students and Faculty

Esteemed baroque ensemble visits College of Music, explores historic performance.

The visit from the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble culminated with a concert in the Fairchild Theatre, part of Taylor Johnston Early Music Series.
Yury Ozhegov, left receives instruction from Marilyn McDonald during a masterclass in Cook Recital Hall.
Michael Lynn talks about Baroque ornamentation on the recorder during a wind workshop at the College of Music.
Webb Wiggins offers his critique with students during an open rehearsal with the MSU Symphony Orchestra at the Fairchild Theatre.

Students, faculty and community members had the opportunity to hear 17th and 18th century masterworks played on period instruments when the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble visited the MSU College of Music in late January.

In addition to showcasing repertoire from Italy, England, and Germany in a one-night performance attended by 250 people, the four-piece ensemble offered their expertise on teaching and performing Baroque music through two workshops.

"This particular ensemble is highly regarded and is considered an authority in the world of baroque music," says David Rayl, professor of music, director of choral programs, and associate dean for graduate studies. "Having these leading musicians come here was an incredible learning opportunity for our students."

Workshops and open rehearsals compared baroque versus modern performance practices, baroque performance on modern instruments, and baroque ornamentation. About 100 students from the areas of conducting, strings, wind and musicology attended various workshops alongside faculty and community members. Professor of Music Kevin Noe was among them.

"It's always wonderful to hear good musicianship on any instrument," say Noe, also the director of orchestras and graduate orchestral conducting. "We can learn so much about how to make music in general from regular and thoughtful study of early music and earlier work."

Area Chair of Musicology Ken Prouty commented on how the workshops enhanced some of the concepts his students explore in his graduate seminar on improvisation.

"These workshops provided a great opportunity for students to see the integration of performance and scholarship, and to interact with great musicians," says Prouty, associate professor of musicology and jazz studies. "Historical performance isn't something my students are engaged with everyday, so to see a group play with such depth and interpretation was tremendous."

MSU master's student in oboe performance Aaron Woodman attended the workshop on baroque ornamentation. He says he left inspired after discovering the parallels between baroque ornamentation and jazz improvisation.

"It was wonderful learning about their specialized knowledge in performance practice while they were in residence with the College of Music," Woodman says. "Not only does it show the dedication MSU has to performance, it also shows that MSU finds opportunities to expand the knowledge of its students." 

Members of the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble performed on the flute, recorder, baroque violin, baroque cello, viola da gamba, and MSU’s Robert Duffy harpsichord. The purchase of the harpsichord was made possible through a gift from Professor Taylor Johnston, while the visit, workshops and performance were part of the expanded opportunities made possible through the inaugural Taylor Johnston Early Music Series

Oberlin Baroque Ensemble: Michael Lynn, Recorder and Baroque flute; Marilyn McDonald, Baroque Violin; Catharina Meints, Viola da Gamba and cello; Webb Wiggins, Harpsichord.

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