300 Years On: Baroque Dance in Berkeley

Having recently completed a lively and popular series of Bay Area performances, Baroque ensemble Musica Pacifica, is pleased to present “300 Years On – A Dance Collection from the Reign of Louis XIV” on Wednesday, June 6, 8 PM at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley. Tickets are $45/35/25 and are available at www.berkeley-festival.org or by calling 510.642.9988.

Instrumentalists of Musica Pacifica and dancers led by Baroque dance specialist Linda Tomko collaborate to present theater and ballroom dances from the end of Louis XIV’s reign.  The theatre pieces were danced by the likes of Mlle Guyot and M. Dumoulin, well known performers at the Paris Opera, and the ballroom dances were performed by noble people at court.  Clad in elegant period-style costumes, the dancers in 300 Years On let audiences savor lively gigues, dreamy sarabandes and fleet rigadouns, the best of a remarkable collection of choreographies, the Nouveau Recueil de Dance, c. 1713, and the music from period operas by Campra and Marais and Destouches which accompanies the dances. The program showcases as well instrumental music of French Baroque composers Francois Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau and one of Telemann’s delightful “Paris Quartets.”

Musicians: Judith Linsenberg, recorder; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Debra Nagy, oboe; Josh Lee, viola da gamba; Charles Sherman, harpsichord; and John Loose, percussion.

Dancers: Linda Tomko, Ken Pierce, Olsi Gjeci, and Jennifer Thorp.

Early music professionals and fans from around the globe will gather in Berkeley June 3 to 10 for the 2012 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, presented by the San Francisco Early Music Society, Cal Performances, and Early Music America in association with American Bach Soloists, Agave Baroque, Chanticleer, Musica Pacifica, New Esterházy Quartet, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Voices of Music. Since its inauguration in 1990, the biennial Festival has been recognized worldwide as one of the premier events of its kind, bringing together early music performers, scholars, instrument makers, publishers, and enthusiasts for a week of concerts, lectures, conferences, and master classes centered in and around the First Congregational Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley.

Linda Tomko, historian and dancer, embodies dances past and choreographs in period style.  For a number of years, she co-directed with Wendy Hilton the annual Stanford University Summer Workshop in Baroque Dance and its Music.  With fellow dancers Richard Semmens, Nena Couch, and Bruce Roberts, she founded Les Menus Plaisirs, a Baroque dance troupe, and she has danced as a soloist in the U.S., Canada, and Japan.  She is a faculty member in the Department of Dance at the University of California, Riverside, and a past president of the Society of Dance History Scholars.  Ms. Tomko edits the Dance and Music book series for Pendragon Press.

Described by the press as “some of the finest baroque musicians in America” (American Record Guide) and “among the best in the world” (Alte Musik Aktuell), Musica Pacifica performs 17th- and 18th-century music on varying combinations of recorder, violin, cello/gamba, harpsichord, and percussion. Their very recent Dancing in the Isles CD has continued to get rave reviews from music journals all over the world, including American Record Guide; the German magazine Concerto; Early Music Today from the UK, and the prestigious Gramophone from the UK, who called it “one of the zestiest recordings of recent vintage to present works that once had them dancing and listening with joy.” And the online journal, Musica dei Donum said: The playing is first-rate: full of bounce, stylish, and technically immaculate.”

Core Members of Musica Pacifica perform with Philharmonia Baroque and American Bach Soloists, and also appear with prominent early music ensembles nationally and abroad. They have performed on such prestigious concert series as The Frick Collection and Music Before 1800 (NY), the Getty Museum (LA), Tage Alter Musik (Regensburg), Cleveland Art Museum, and the Berkeley Early Music Festival (3 times), among others. They have performed at festivals in Germany and Austria and have been featured on German National radio as well as on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and “Harmonia.” Musica Pacifica’s eight CD releases on the Virgin Classics, Dorian, and Solimar labels have won national and international awards, including Chamber Music America/WQXR’s 2003 Record Award, being featured on Minnesota Public Radio, and being chosen as “CD of the Month” by the early music journal Alte Musik Aktuell (Regensburg). Full bios of all musicians are at www.musicapacifica.org.