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MUSA to present a preview of their Berkeley Early Music Festival concert

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The MUSA Baroque Ensemble was founded in 2012 by eight young passionate musicians with a shared enthusiasm for the sounds of period instruments. I first wrote about them not long after their formation, when they joined forces with Jonathan Salzedo’s Albany Consort for a Classical Revolution program entitled Sweet Dreams and Night Terrors. This year they were selected as one of the ensembles that will participate in the Young Performers Festival, which will be held June 4–6 in conjunction with the 2014 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition running from June 1 to June 8.

For this occasion the ensemble has prepared (in the words of its Web site) “a program of the new and the old as we explore military exploits and folly.” On the serious side the program will include a performance of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer’s 1668 Die musikalische Fechtschul (the musical fencing school). A more ironic perspective will be provided by Georg Philipp Telemann’s TWV 55:G10 suite, which he called the Burlesque de Quichotte. These two German compositions will be complemented by the French Baroque style of Jean-Baptiste Lully, including a ceremonial Turkish march composed for Molière’s 1670 play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. The program will also present “Les Folies d’Espagne,” Lully’s variations on the Spanish harmonic progression known as “Folia.” That same progression will be given an alternative perspective by local composer Danny Clay, which will be receiving its world premiere; and the program will conclude with a performance of Clay’s “Good Night.”

For those who may not be able to make it to Berkeley, MUSA will present a preview concert. This will take place this coming Saturday, May 31, at the Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church. The church is at 1329 Seventh Avenue, one block south of the Muni trolley (the N Judah line) stop at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Irving Street. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but a donation of between $10 and $20 will be greatly appreciated.

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