Clad in frilly shirts and puffy wigs, the Raven Baroque crew are dressed at the height of cool, for 350 years ago. When offering up classical music, it can help to look the part.
With a venue surrounded by panoramic mountain views, some of the city’s best musicians will launch into Bach, Handel and Vivaldi on the old reservoir on Mount Tolmie on Sunday. It’s the fifth free Canada Day concert since Raven Baroque formed six years ago.
“I thought it’s such a beautiful venue, when the weather is good you just can’t beat it,” said Raven organizer Don Kissinger.
“The idea is to give back to the community. This is a way to give back to the ordinary citizen.”
“Come for the view, stay for the music,” quipped violinist Julia Hostetler.
Kissinger, who will play the viola, describes the harmonically complex baroque as the hit pop music of 1650s Europe.
“Baroque is probably the most played form of classical music. It’s the era where Vivaldi’s Four Seasons comes from, and a lot of other favourite music,” Kissinger said.
“It’s easy listening. It’s not something where people need a background in classical music to enjoy. It seems to be the type of classical music people automatically like.”
The 11-person ensemble has a mix of veteran professional symphony musicians and recent graduates from the University of Victoria.
“All these characters are high-powered musicians,” Kissinger said. “They are all very talented.”
Shane Beech, a UVic piano student and composer, will play a Bach concerto and one of his own compositions. Laine Longton, a recent masters grad in cello performance from University of Illinois, will perform a cello concerto.
UVic soprano Mary-Ellen Rayner will lend her voice to a baroque opera Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, which explores love and betrayal with the queen of Carthage. “It’s kind of a love story that ends in tragedy,” Kissinger notes. “She goes through beautiful songs as she approaches her end.”
Kissinger formed Raven Baroque as a means to keep popular classical music alive and kicking, and to keep it accessible to the public.
“We added costumes for the audience to make it more entertaining,” he said. “People want more than just music.”
When & where
-Raven Baroque performs July 1, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. on the reservoir at the top of Mayfair Drive on Mount Tolmie. Seating available for 150. By donation. See ravenbaroque.org for details.