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AU Chamber Orchestra and Singers perform Handel, Vivaldi in showcase of Baroque period music

George Frideric Handel was only 22 years old when he composed "Dixit Dominus," a piece that represented a step toward more complex instrumentation during the Baroque period and is his earliest surviving autograph.

Daniel Abraham, associate professor in the Department of Performing Arts, conducted the AU Chamber Orchestra and Singers through this and another famous baroque composition on April 19 and 20 for "Bold Baroque." The concert in the Abramson Family Recital Hall featured works by Handel and Antonio Vivaldi.

The "Dixit Dominus" showcases Handel's earliest choral writing.

The program began when Abraham was working with two Russian orchestras for the groups to perform with. Although some suggested Aaron Copland and Mozart, they eventually settled on Baroque period music due to its reviving popularity.

"I got a response from the Russians that said 'Oh my God, people here love Baroque music and there's not enough performed,'" Abraham said. "And we're hearing more and more of it and there are some real performance period practice things starting to grow in Russia. It's very new, but I basically received a message that said people tend to flock to these baroque programs."

The Vivaldi piece entitled "Gloria, RV 589" is known for its more jovial string passages, though contrapuntal to that is the "Dixit Dominus," based on the Latin Psalm 110, which contains areas that have elongated intonations, making it a challenging piece for singers to contend with.

The AU Chamber orchestra, which just began resurfacing in the past couple years, went on a hiatus from 2006.

"There hasn't been an active chamber orchestra till last fall, with Yaniv Dinur, the new AU conductor." Abraham said. "He's been putting this chamber orchestra in more of an active role."

The Dixit Dominus was the centerpiece of the night, featuring elaborate choral passages performed by College of Arts and Sciences senior Jennifer Glinzak.

"It's very youthful," Abraham said. "It's filled with a sense of the German cantorial tradition of Bach in that harmonies are quite complex, the counterpoint is very robust and [Handel] took that spirit of his youth to Italy for three years when he was touring and learning the craft of writing vocal music. This work was, in essence, one of the crowning achievements at the end of his three years of his pilgrimage to the land of voices."

The program of "Bold Baroque" is a celebration of two masterworks by two incredible accomplished composers and pleased the palate of classical aficionados.

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