Tomorrow evening at the North Shore Congregational Church in Fox Point, the Milwaukee/Chicago based Great Lakes Baroque ensemble opens its third season with a program that focuses on the music of the late French Baroque period. Music for the Last Queen showcases French composers of the late 18th Century - just prior to the French Revolution.
Ensemble founder and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour says the language of the program is not accidental. "Although I think many Americans imagine Marie Antoinette as only being extraordinary, frivolous, or associating her with the phrase, 'Let them eat cake'...(She) was very very cultivated, and upon her arrival to the French court in 1770 she immediately became very passionate about music," he explains.
Antoinette studied several instruments such as the harpsichord, fortepiano, and harp, as well as sang and composed music. "A real music lover would know that under her reign, certain composers who remain famous today, like Gluck, were much supported by her," he says. Which is why, Vinikour says, his colleague Philippe LeRoy, co-founder and director of programming for Great Lakes Baroque, wanted to explore the great composers of this period.
Vinikour tells Lake Effect's Bonnie North what was happening historically and musically during the time period of their concert pieces, as well as plays a selection on the harpsichord: