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Bitterroot Baroque is sponsoring and participating in the Montana Cantata Project and presenting two concerts, in Hamilton on March 23 and in Missoula March 24.

The concerts will have two J.S. Bach cantatas, “It is our salvation come here to us” (Bach Works Catalogue 9) and “Lord, Your eyes look for faith” (BWV 102) selected because the instrumentation suits the instruments and abilities available. The program will also include two instrumental works, a Vivaldi triple concerto for two violins and cello and a Händel concerto grosso with oboes and recorders.

Alex Shaffer, president of Bitterroot Baroque, said that there are musicians in the area who play period-style baroque instruments creating an ad hoc community baroque orchestra.

“Bitterroot Baroque is supporting this group in several ways,” Shaffer said. “We bring in leading practitioners of early music to teach, lead and perform with this group on a frequent basis. And we have purchased a number of instruments to make it easier for folks who don’t necessarily have an extra three or four thousand dollars to get involved.”

This is the second year for the Montana Cantata Project and it is the group’s biggest and most ambitious undertaking with singers, more exotic instruments like baroque oboes and oboe d’amore, a concertmaster and a cellist with the skill set to deal with Bach arias.

The guest musicians serve as workshop faculty as well as soloists for the concerts.

Local concert violinist Tim Fain will be an orchestra member and one of the violin soloists in the Vivaldi triple concerto.

“We are delighted that he wants to do this,” Shaffer said. “Last year when we did the Montana Cantata Project for the first time we had some illnesses and Tim Fain generously stepped in to help out. He seemed to enjoy it and rose to the challenge of playing in a different style at a different pitch and with baroque equipment.”

Carrie Krause will be the concertmaster and soloist. She is a graduate of the Juilliard Historical Performance Program and currently based in Bozeman where she is concertmaster of the Bozeman Symphony.

Krause has a distinguished career as a baroque violinist with Apollo’s Fire, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, New York Baroque Incorporated and many other groups. She is well known to local classical music fans for her appearances with String Orchestra of the Rockies (SOR) and Musikanten in Missoula.

Sarah Stone, another Juilliard graduate, a Bitterroot Baroque board member, and a much-in-demand New York City freelance baroque cellist, leads the continuo section and is the cello soloist in the Vivaldi concerto.

The distinguished Seattle-based baroque oboist Curtis Foster rounds out the faculty as wind coach and oboe soloist.

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Tim Westerhaus, tenor, and director of choirs and vocal studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane has assembled singers needed for the cantatas: himself, Amy Porter, Amanda Glover and Joshua Vander Plaats. Westerhaus will lead the vocalists and conduct the Vivaldi and Händel concertos from the harpsichord.

“The cantata repertoire holds a special place in the hearts of many of us for being beautiful, challenging and underperformed, especially outside of major cities in rural areas like ours,” Shaffer said.

The Hamilton performance will be at 7:30 p.m. on March 23, at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 600 S. 3rd St.. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $10 for students and “pay as you are able.” Tickets are available at Chapter One Book Store, 252 W. Main St., in Hamilton and at the door.

The Missoula performance will be at 2 p.m. on March 24, at the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 420 W. Pine St.. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for students.

For more information contact bitterrootbaroque@gmail.com or call 314-852-5099.

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