Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Baroque awakening: getting excited by immersion in early music

Baroque awakening: getting excited by immersion in early music

The Esber Recital Hall stage has been the focus of my life for the past three days. Over the course of the semester thus far, playing with the Penn State Baroque Ensemble has been one of the fun escapes from my “normal” music life (is there such a thing?) here at the University. This week has been the complete opposite. Immersing myself in a musical world from three centuries ago has taken me from all of my modern musical pursuits. The world of gut strings, improvisations, and miles of unexplored repertoire have opened me to an exciting world of early music!

With the exciting chance to perform a new style of music comes an immense learning curve. Compared with the music that I’m used to playing, Baroque is an entirely different world of thinking, listening, and even physical approach to the instrument. Aisslinn Nosky, our guest director, is an incredible musician with the renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Playing in the same ensemble with her has taught me a huge amount about how limitless music really is and how hard I have to work to even scratch the surface.

Aisslinn Nosky, our guest director, is an incredible musician with the renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

Through these days of intensive rehearsal I have learned a few things:

1. No music is boring. If you approach any new music, or art, or any facet of creativity, there is always a way to find relevance. Even if something is unfamiliar to you, there are performers of that music for profound reasons that are accessible to all listeners.

2. Early music is as versatile as jazz. There’s room to always try new things, be spontaneous, and push the limits of what sounds “right” or “comfortable.”

3. Working with esteemed professionals is intimidating but reminds me that they were in my shoes once. If people can make a living by performing historical music, then all musicians and creative people can make a living doing what their heart desires (if the right amount of work is involved).

I’m anxiously awaiting the moment where I can play with a group of fabulous colleagues and share this wonderful craft with my peers!

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