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Bitterroot Baroque season finale May 25
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Bitterroot Baroque season finale May 25

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Bitterroot Baroque has scheduled a wonderful season finale of French Baroque music on Saturday, May 25.

Alex Shaffer, president, said the event is not to be missed.

“We will be playing an assortment of lovely music French Baroque music in various instrumental combinations that shows off the harpsichord to great effect,” Shaffer said. “All of it dates from before the invention of the piano, when harpsichord was king of the chamber music keyboard instruments and composers were well attuned to its possibilities and charm.”

The concert will feature composers Duphly, Marais, Boismortier, Morel, Rameau, Blavet and Leclair.

Shaffer said he commissioned a Flemish-style double manual harpsichord.

“It sounds fabulous and this concert will be its debut performance,” he said. “We are doing a concert of French music from the high Baroque for flutes, viola da gamba and harpsichord and bringing in Jillon Stoppels Dupree from Seattle to play the new instrument. The other players are Leighann Daihl Ragusa — a Chicago-based flutist, Sarah Stone — a NYC freelancer and Bitterroot Baroque board member and myself.”

Craftsman Kevin Fryer built the harpsichord and delivered it a few weeks ago.

He has built this style of harpsichord that he calls his “signature instrument.” The original was built in 1624 by Johan Ruckers of Antwerp in the Alps.

“The Ruckers Dynasty of Antwerp is the equivalent of Stradivarius in Pomona,” Fryer said. “The original was rebuilt twice, once in France in 1680 and the second time around 1720.”

Fryer said he built Shaffer’s harpsichord with a pitch to match baroque flutes.

“Harpsichords were not pitched the way modern instruments are,” he said. “Alex is very interested in and specializes in baroque flutes, pitched another half step down. This instrument is the second in the less-common version that I build. It is pitched A392 and then it transposes to 415.”

Fryer has built the lower-pitched harpsichord version four times. Those are in The Netherlands, St. Paul, Minnesota, Alameda, California and, now Hamilton.

Bitterroot Baroque will present a program for Corvallis flute students on Thursday, May 23.

“They will be making a field trip to St. Paul’s where we will demonstrate the historical development of the flute and let them hear what the baroque flute sounds like in context with gamba and harpsichord, and then there will also be something for them to do with their modern instruments,” Shaffer said.

Attend the Bitterroot Baroque’s season finale with the Flemish-style double manual harpsichord at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, corner of Third and Desmet streets, in Hamilton. The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for students.

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