The Baroque period was one of the most influential and revolutionary eras in music history. It transformed music by utilizing and promoting harmonic sophistication, ornamentation, virtuoso improvisation, and a new kind of polyphony. The Baroque era was a defining period in creative arts because it developed and promoted unique styles not only in music but also in painting, sculpture, and architecture. However, Baroque music has a unique historical position and status because it primarily shaped and transformed the art of music. The Baroque era was a notable moment in music history because it developed numerous large-scale performance frameworks, including the sonata, the concerto, and the suite of dance movements. Substantial ornamentation, the harpsichord continuo, and the contrasting segments involving contrapuntal or polyphonic texture are some defining elements of Baroque-era music.
The Baroque era spanned from 1600 to 1750, encompassing numerous prominent composers and instrumentalists. The period produced some of the most influential composers of all time. In the early Baroque, experimental Italian composers like Claudio Monteverdi and Alessandro Scarlatti set the new direction convincingly. By the full flowering of the Baroque, creative geniuses like Antonio Vivaldi in Italy, Johann Sebastian Bach in Germany, Jean-Philippe Rameau in France, George Frideric Handel in England, and Domenico Scarlatti in Spain took Baroque style in new and exciting directions, producing unique styistic fusions according to the varied cultural contexts from which they borrowed, and in which they were surrounded. Although the Baroque period played a primary role in shaping Classical music, many people are unaware of the influential Baroque composers or their work due to a lack of performances at the local and community levels. Some groups and organizations, like the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, are turning this around by reviving Baroque music and other forms of early music, bringing back the influential composers of earlier eras through their concerts.
Classical music has a unique and prominent status despite the evolution of numerous popular genres in the past few decades. Many people listen to historical styles of music but carelessly refer to all periods as Classical music due to a lack of awareness or understanding regarding different periods. The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival is reintroducing Baroque music to people and reviving the music from the era by performing music from the most prominent composers of the time in their evocative original context and sound. The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, founded in 1973 by Linda Burman-Hall, is an American organization dedicated to playing and promoting Baroque music in its original form.
The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival aims to bring back and revive Baroque-era music by presenting at least five concerts each year featuring music from prominent composers like Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel and also lesser-known composers. Using replica period instruments and performing music at its original pitch, tempo, and sound is the identifying and distinctive characteristic of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. The organization’s primary activities include presenting concerts during their annual season from February to April or early May, youth Classical music competitions, musical fund-raisers, and CD album production. The organization’s leadership comprises Linda Burman-Hall as the artistic director, with Donald Wilson and Brian Johnston as the co-presidents. Christopher Smith is the vice president of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. Jill Perry serves as the treasurer, Rowan O’Neill is the secretary, and Kate Smit is the general manager. Audio Engineer is Allucquere (‘Sandy’) Stone and the videographer is Andy Zenczak of Gadgetbox. Most recently, Isabella Balbi has joined the staff as Assistant Manager. The team collectively works to present concerts focusing on reviving Baroque-era music and bringing back these ingenious and influential composers.
Promoting and highlighting music from several hundred years ago helps people learn to identify and differentiate various genres and composers by recognizing unique elements. The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival presents an annual series of early music concerts in the original sound, and also in buildings that approximate appropriate period acoustics, using replica instruments to offer historically-informed Baroque-era music to audiences. The different themes and composers highlighted in the organization’s concerts allow people to enjoy the various colors and types of Baroque music in their original form and sound. The annual Santa Cruz Baroque Festival concerts present various forms of early music in cultural contexts, and showcases music from early to late Baroque periods from Northern and Southern Europe.
The group also presents a unique interplay between folk and formal music from various regions, including the French countryside or courts, regions under the Ottoman Empire’s rule, Arab Spain, and Northern Indian areas under the influence of the British Raj. The organization helps people experience the joy of music while highlighting and helping them understand the value and legacy of early Classical music. The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival highlights and presents the breadth and expansive scope of Baroque-era music from famous cathedrals, prominent courts, and famous chapels from all over the European countryside.
The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival presents and promotes the musical works of famous and influential composers during the Baroque era to increase people’s understanding, awareness, and appreciation of Classical and Baroque music. The organization has been presenting concerts for 50 years. The events for the group’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2023 are already underway, with several concerts and performances. The organization recently performed in a pre-season lecture and two-fortepiano concert on 19th November 2022 as a part of Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebrations. The concert featured prominent soprano Christine Brandes and popular fortepiano soloist Nicholas Mathew performing on a 6-octave 1820 Graf fortepiano and an 1800 5-octave Schanz fortepiano. The group is using the “Powers of 4” theme for the golden jubilee celebrations while performing music from the Middle Ages to Haydn and Mozart. The Artistic Director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, Linda Burman-Hall, chose the “Powers of 4” theme for the 50th anniversary celebrations for focusing on both popular and relatively obscure four-voice music and quartets from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and to the high Classic in the 2023 concerts. The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival focuses on bringing back Baroque-era music and the early music that came before and after. It revives prominent composers like Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, and others to the masses.