Bourbon Baroque Pays Tribute to the Races at Free Friday Concert

If you hear the church bells ringing at St. John’s on East Market Street during Friday night’s Trolley Hop, consider it your call to post. The bells will ring about a minute before each short concert by Louisville’s Bourbon Baroque ensemble. There will be two 30-minute performances, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Bourbon Baroque stages their monthly free cantata series concerts during each Trolley Hop. They’re casual, social and free—not your typical classical music setting.

In the spirit of Derby Week, Friday’s show will pay tribute to the horse races with German Baroque composer Georg Telemann’s “Don Quixote” burlesque suite, which is inspired by the rhythms of horseback riding.

“He takes some of the story’s little episodes from the ‘Don Quixote’ epic and creates really fun movements,” says co-artistic director John Austin Clark. “It’s s a multi-movement piece, and it lasts about 12 minutes.”

They’re also giving Stephen Foster an 18th century makeover with original Baroque chamber arrangements of his songs, including “My Old Kentucky Home.”

“Of course we’re doing our state song, and we can’t do it without giving the audience a chance to chime in,” says co-artistic director John Austin Clark. “The guest vocalists will be the audience.”

The concerts are designed with First Friday festive crowds in mind.

“It’s very easy to waltz right in, listen for a little bit, then you’re up and ready to go on to your bar or restaurant,” says Clark. “You get a small little morsel of what we’re capable of doing and what we do with our own concert series. You get a little taste of the Baroque.”

The Baroque period (1600-1750) followed the Renaissance, and the music of the period forms a major portion of the classical music canon. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Purcell all composed during that era. Bourbon Baroque is dedicated to performing the music of the period on the instruments common to that time.

“We have violins and violas and cellos, like a typical string ensemble,” says Clark, who plays harpsichord. “Basically, Bourbon Baroque is like modern day orchestra, except 300 years older.”

Clark says during the Baroque period–like now–music was an integral part of social events like Friday night’s lively arts scene.

“Culture and arts were really woven into the social scene. And as you would socialize back in the 18th century, particularly of course if you were an aristocrat, you would appreciate and encounter live music that would be within a social setting,” he says. “So the Baroque period is really attractive to me, because the music is interwoven socially. It takes the music and brings it to the people and makes it almost participatory.”

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