Authentic Baroque music comes to Cumberland

On May 18, Comox Valley residents will have a rare opportunity to hear and see internationally-renowned musicians perform Baroque music right here at home, thanks to a mid-Vancouver Island tour which is being presented as a companion activity to Denman Island’s first Baroque Music Workshop and Festival, which wrapped up over the weekend.

Maestros Marco Vitale, Enrique Gomes-Cabrera Fernandez, and Romeo Ciuffa, members of the international ensemble Contrasto Armonico, are coming from Poland and Italy to teach and perform at the eight-day Denman event.

“We thought, why not give people in surrounding communities the chance to see and hear them perform?” says Andrew Fyson, the Denman workshop and festival organizer. “Generally, you’d have to go to Vancouver or Victoria to experience something like this.”

The local concert will showcase what Fyson describes as “an exciting new wave in Baroque music.”

Baroque music has always been popular, he explains. “But it’s only in the last 20 or 30 years that we have discovered, based on research, how the music was actually played at the time it was created.”

The result is a new approach known as “historically inspired performance.”

In these concerts people will get to hear music played on copies of original instruments, using historical pitches and transpositions, with the goal of getting as close as possible to the style and aesthetic of the work as originally performed.

“This makes the music really exciting. Baroque music was like the jazz of the 17th century. Back then, there was much opportunity for the artist to express their own feelings about the music, to improvise and to add ornamentation. This is something that is very absent from the typical symphony classical concert of today,” says Fyson.

Contrasto Armonico is a leading orchestra/ensemble of professional musicians from all over the world who share the same ideals and feelings for historically-informed performance.

Under the directorship of Marco Vitale, this group carries out front-line research and advances the boundaries of early music performance practice.

More information at

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Cumberland United Church; tickets are $20 at the door. For more information, contact Robert Newton at 250-335-9047.

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