Agave Baroque Queen of Heaven

VG1022 Agave Baroque
Queen of Heaven
Music of Isabella Leonard (1620-1704)
in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  1. Sonata quarta, Op. 16 no. 4 (1693)
  2. Quam dulcis Es, Op. 13 no. 2 (1687)
  3. Sonata duodecima, Op. 16, no. 12 (1693)
  4. Venite, laetantes, Op. 20 no. 12 (1700)
  5. Sonata prima, Op. 16 no. 1 (1693)
  6. O Maria, quam dulcis, quam cara, Op. 20 no. 8 (1700)

Reginald Mobley, countertenor

Agave Baroque
  • Aaron Westman and Natalie Carducci, baroque violin
  • William Skeen, viola da gamba
  • Kevin Cooper, baroque guitar and theorbo
  • Henry Lebedinsky, organ

Program Notes

As the Renaissance waned in the sixteenth century, Italy stood at the forefront of European musical culture. Major Italian cities, through their nobility and church hierarchy, fostered an unparalleled wealth of composers, performers, and theorists. Italian expatriates disseminated the latest innovations to courts and chapels throughout Europe, and many leading musicians from abroad traveled to Italy to study with the great masters. It was in Italy that the rediscovery of interest in classical Greek and Roman literature and rhetoric led to the birth of a new style of music focusing on text rather than on melodic line. A new genre was born – the monody – which consisted of a solo vocal part accompanied by a chordal bass, usually performed on a plucked string or keyboard instrument. A curious mixture of cutting- edge harmonic freedom and attempts to recreate the declamatory style of the Greek epic poets, Italian monody, or stile recitativo, would play a major role in European music for the next two centuries. While the monodic song originated as a secular art form, it was quickly appropriated – as were many musical trends – into the realm of the sacred, albeit not without its share of controversy.

In the seventeenth century just as today, the Roman Catholic Church was known for its social and cultural conservatism, and its attitudes toward music were no exception. Composers who held positions in both sacred and secular spheres would often reserve their more adventurous work for the stage and court while reverting to older forms, harmonies, and musical language favored by church officials for their sacred music. The duality between sacred and secular compositional styles eventually broke down for the most part, due to the ubiquity of the cantata and the increasing popularity of opera. By the first decades of the 18th century, the only real differences between cantata versus motet and oratorio versus opera were in the choice of texts and performance venues.

A very interesting venue indeed was the Italian convent. During the 17th century it became a common practice for noble families to force their younger daughters into becoming nuns, often to avoid having to pay the exorbitant dowries that noble marriages demanded. Despite this serious injustice, the cloistered life did offer some privileges, including the opportunity for education and advancement within the order, more accessible to women from prosperous families and often denied to those of lesser means. The Catholic Church, through several harshly worded papal edicts, tried with varying degrees of enforcement to curtail music making by nuns and by women in general. However, convents continued to be dynamic centers of musical performance into the 18th century, attracting the attention of music-loving nobility who would come from afar to hear the nuns sing and play during Mass and the Divine Offices. Despite unwelcome attention from church officials who would, from time to time, attempt to eliminate the practice entirely, convents continued to cultivate music performance and composition during a time where women were, with few exceptions, prevented from pursuing musical careers with increasing intensity.

In his Catalogue des livres de musique, the French composer, book collector, and encyclopedist Sebastien de Brossard wrote of Isabella Leonarda: “All the works of the illustrious and incomparable Isabelle Léonard [sic] are so beautiful, so gracious, so brilliant, and at once so knowledgeable and learned that my greatest regret is in not having them all.” Very little is known about Leonarda except what was written in civic records and what she herself included in the prefatory and dedicatory writings published with her compositions. She was born Anna Isabella Leonarda in Novara on 6 September 1620, the daughter of Giantonio Leonardi, a lawyer and a member of the minor nobility, who held several civic posts in the city. Her death was recorded as occurring on 25 February 1704. All three of her brothers held important religious or civic posts, and her nephew Nicolò Leonardi, a poet who in addition to furnishing a prefatory sonnet to Isabella’s collection of solo motets published as Op. 12 (1686), also wrote the libretto to Domenico Freschi’s opera L’amante muto loquace, which was performed in Venice in 1680.

In 1636, the sixteen-year-old Isabella Leonarda entered the Collegio di Sant’Orsola, an Ursuline convent in the parish of Santa Eufemia in Novara. The Ursulines are a teaching order, and judging by the name of the convent it is assumed that it was a school for girls. In her youth, Leonarda most probably studied with the Novarese organist and composer Gasparo Casati (ca. 1610-1641), who included two of her motets for two voices and basso continuo in his Terzo libro de sacri concenti (1640). In addition to the religious and administrative duties required of a nun in her position, she managed to publish twenty volumes of music, over 250 compositions in all, over a sixty-year period. Evidence of Leonarda’s rise through the ranks can be gleaned from the title pages of her publications. By 1676 (Op. 6) she is madre, by 1686 (Op. 12) she is identified as superiora, in 1693 (Op. 16) she is madre vicaria, and in her final publication, Opus 20, of 1700, she calls herself Consigliera.

The years 1684-1687 were some of Leonarda’s most productive. As Mother Superior, she was most likely relieved of some of the administrative duties that occupied her younger years, and could devote her energy to not only composition, but also the publication of her earlier output. In this four-year span, she oversaw the printing of five volumes of music. Quam Dulcis Es, originally scored for soprano, two violins, and basso continuo and here transposed down a minor third for alto, comes from her collection of motets for 1-3 voices published as Op. 13 (1687.) This piece retains elements of Leonarda’s older style, with more use of recitative and a more conservative harmonic palette. It concludes with a brilliant Amen, moving away from the swinging triple meters of the earlier arias and building to an intensely emotional climax.

Many 18th century composers, most notably George Frederick Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach, have left us surviving examples of revision, adaptation, and re-composition, including earlier versions of many of Bach’s organ chorale preludes and multiple versions of aria’s from Handel’s Messiah. Surviving 17th century examples are much fewer in number. Fortunately, Leonarda has provided us with a fascinating glimpse into how she updated and revised her works in keeping with changing musical styles over her almost 60-year compositional career. O Maria, quam dulcis, quam cara was first published in 1677 as part of Op. 7, scored for alto, two violins, and basso continuo (Organo). 23 years later, she included a new setting of the piece in her final publication, Op. 20 collection of solo motets, which the 80-year-old composer published in 1700. Starting in 1693 with the publication of her instrumental sonatas, the bowed bass instrument was given its own partbook, separate from the basso continuo. This allows Leonarda to write functionally antiphonal music, with the voice, organ, and plucked instrument in one choir and the three bowed strings in the other, and she makes good use of this technique in her new O Maria, a bright and vivacious piece mostly in arietta, that is, without recitative. Metric modulations and harmonic surprises build energy from one section to the next, and the motet concludes with a breezy, spirited Amen.

Leonarda’s first version of Venite, laetantes, set for soprano and basso continuo, was published as part of Op. 14 in 1687. The second version, from Op. 20 (1700), is rescored for alto, with significant changes to the bass line and the addition of a wonderful Alleluia. Theologically, the text (probably written by Leonarda herself) is quite interesting, being one of a very small number of first-person Marian lyrics from the 17th century. As with most of her solo motets, Venite, laetantes was most probably written to be performed either at the elevation of the Host during the Mass or, more likely, outside of the church as “sacred recreation,” - a thinly-veiled excuse for a semi-public concert, a practice that courageously flaunted the church’s decrees against nuns’ performing outside of the divine liturgy. While much of Leonarda’s liturgical choral music, including the magnificent Vespers of 1698, tended towards a more conservative style, her solo motets and other smaller-scale non-liturgical works are as a rule more experimental and more dramatic, drawing more brazenly from the conventions found in contemporary secular cantatas.

In 1693, Leonarda published a collection of twelve instrumental sonatas, mostly for two violins, bowed bass, and basso continuo. This volume is one of only two extant collections of purely instrumental music published by female composers in 17th-century Italy, the other being a book of dance pieces by the Venetian noblewoman Marieta Morosina Priuli dating from 1667. Overall rather conservative in form (Corelli had already published three collections of trio sonatas by this time), Leonarda’s sonatas are still organized in a series of contrasting sections set apart by changes of meter and affect, instead of being made up of independent movements, suggesting that their composition may have predated their publication by some time. Sonata Quarta is the most extroverted and cheerful of the collection, set in the celebratory key of D Major. Its quick sections are lively dances, full of infectious rhythms and spirited dialogue between the violins, offset with more introspective recitatives. Unlike some of the other sonatas in the volume, the bowed bass (marked violone) is not independent of the basso continuo. Leonarda only gives it one place to stretch its wings, a brief solo recitative that gives the performer an improvisational opportunity. The sonata closes on a wistful note, with a gentle, singing Adagio.

Sonata Duodecima, the final piece in the collection, is Leonarda’s only known composition for solo violin and continuo (and the seventeenth century’s only such composition by a woman). It opens with a fine example of instrumental recitative, in which Leonarda captures the spirit of the monodic style and transfers it very successfully to the violin’s idiom. The sections that follow are full of spirit, vitality, and richness of melody, including a very tender slow aria reminiscent of the finest bel canto.

Sonata Prima is the longest and in some ways the most developed of all the trio sonatas. After a brisk opening, the piece blooms with a lovely, singing aria that showcases Leonarda’s gift for melody at its finest. An introspective adagio leads into a vigorous fugue, full of surprising twists and unexpected turns of phrase. Unlike the controlled and concise recitatives in her Sonata Quarta, Leonarda gives each instrument a more elaborate soliloquy before rounding off the sonata with a lively romp of a Vivace.

- Henry Lebedinsky
Translations by Fr. Edward Vodoklys, SJ
©2000-2014 Saltarello Editions


Quam Dulcis Es (Op. 13 #2)

Quam dulcis es, quam cara meo cordis amanti
O Mater pia.
Si a te, O Maria, sum protecta defensa,
In isto mundo sto cum corde iocundo.
Cara genetrix alma, per te stat cor in calma;
Tu dona spes.
Te genetrice in una tota
Stat mea cara fortunata.

Si protegis me
In terra ignota,
In valle remota,
Secura sperare io possum per te.

Defendis si me
In via fallaci,
In mare mendaci,
Io possum restare secura cum spe.

Ergo, si mihi spirat tuae gratiae dilectae Favorabilis aura, O Mater pia,

Si per te, O Maria,
Sum in risu festivo
In hac misera terra
Et faelix vivo.

Tu mei laboris es unica meta.
Sum laeta quieta, mercedem amoris
Pro praetio sudoris
Si mihi tu das.

Si quod venit ad me a te Virgo mittitur
Quod a me exit ad te
Cara, cara dirigitur.

Si canto, si sono sunt cantus per te
Cum musicae dono tu recipe me.
Canori accentus formantur a me
Ut mei concentus magnificent te.

Ergo mea harmonia tota tua semper est,
Virgo Maria. Amen.

How sweet, how dear you are to my loving heart, O Pious Mother!
If I am protected, defended by you, O Mary,
In this world, I stand with joyful heart.
Dear, nourishing begetter, through you
My heart stands in calm, you grant me hope.
My entire dear fortunate being
Stands in total union with you, O begetter.

If you protect me
In an unknown land,
In a remote valley,
I am able to hope securely through you.

If you defend me
On the path of falsehood,
In the sea of lies,
I am able to remain secure with hope.

Therefore, if the breath of your beloved Grace
Breathes favorably upon me, O pious Mother,

If through you, O Mary,
I am among this festive laughter,
Even in this wretched land,
I will live happily.

You are the only measure of my toil.
I am quietly rejoicing
If you give me the reward of love
In exchange for my sweat.

If what comes to me is sent by you, Virgin,
That which I give is directed to you,
Dear, dear one.

If I sing, if there are songs through you,
You receive me with the gift of song.
The song’s intonations are formed by me,
So that my harmonies may magnify you.

Therefore, my harmony is always totally yours,
O Virgin Mary. Amen.


O Maria, quam dulcis (Op. 20 #8)

O Maria quam dulcis,
Quam cara, quam pulchra es.

Cor meum aeterno ardebit amore
V(i)rginei fulgoris accensum ardore.

Cum nihil te clarius te pulcrius,

te carius inveniam Maria

Tu enim Virgo beatissima
atque amabilissima
Tu pectoris delitiae meae

Es sponsa creatoris
Es mater Redemptoris
Es casti fons amoris

Eia ergo illos tuos oculos ad nos converte beatos.
Es mihi afflicto Mariae solamen
M(o)erenti dolenti fis dulce solamen.
Amen.

O Mary, how sweet, how precious,
how beautiful you are.

My heart is aflame with love

Your maidenly splendor enflames my passion.

Nothing compares to your brightness, your beauty, your worthiness, O Mary.

You are indeed the most blessed
and most beautiful, O Virgin.
You are the delight of my heart

The spouse of the Creator
The mother of the Redeemer
The spotless fount of love.

Turn, then, your eyes toward us and bless us.
You are solace in affliction, Mary.
In mourning, in suffering, be our sweet solace. Amen.


Venite, laetantes (Op. 20 #12)

Venite, laetantes,
Ardores flagrantes,
Venite gaudentes,
Accurrite gentes,
Volate ad me.

Ego sum vita cordium.
Sum dulcis Maria.
Sum vobis vera pax.
Sine me non est quies;
Nulla est beata sors.

Qui me invenerit,
Invenerit vitam,
Et hauriet salutem a Domino.

Per me regnant in mundo amores.
Per me animae libant dulciores.
Semper cara, semper grata
Sunt contenta, quae rorant a me.
Per me gratiae pluunt in mundo
Et delitiae sunt fecundae.

Qui sperant in me, non peribit,
Sed ad ibit ad aeterna gaudia.
Qui vivit in me, non plorabit,
Sed regnabit in caelesti gloria. Alleluia.

Come, cheerful
And glowing desires!
Come rejoicing!
Hasten to Help, Nations!
Fly to me!

I am the life of your hearts.
I am sweet Mary,
I am your true peace.
Without me, there is not rest;
There is no blessed destiny.

Whoever shall have found me,
Shall have found life,
And will drink from the Lord’s cup of salvation.

Through me Loving desires reign in the world.
Through me sweeter souls pour libations.
Always dear, always grateful,
Whatever dew drips from me is happy.
Through me graces fall like rain on the world
And delights are fruitful.

Whoever hopes in me will not perish,
But will enter into eternal joys.
Whoever lives in me will not weep,
But will reign in heavenly glory. Alleluia.


Artist Bios

Countertenor Reginald Mobley fully intended to speak his art through watercolors and oil pastels until circumstance demanded that his own voice should speak for itself. Since reducing his visual color palette to the black and white of a score, he has endeavored to open a wider spectrum onstage. Particularly noted for his “crystalline diction and pure, evenly produced tone” (Miami Herald), as well as “elaborate and inventive ornamentation” (South Florida Classical Review), Reggie is rapidly making a name for himself as soloist in Baroque, Classical, and modern repertoire. His natural and preferred habitat as a soloist is within the works of Bach, Charpentier, Handel, Purcell, as well as other known Baroque Period mainstays. Not to be undone by a strict diet of cantatas, odes, and oratorios, Reggie finds himself equally comfortable in rep of later periods and genres. Such works as Haydn’s Theresienmesse, Mozart’s Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. He has also performed the title role of “Paris” in the Florida premiere of John Eccles’ Judgment of Paris, under the direction of Anthony Rooley and Evelyn Tubb.

A longtime member of the twice GRAMMY® nominated Miami based professional vocal ensemble, Seraphic Fire, Reggie has had the privilege to also lend his talents to other ensembles in the US and abroad. Such as the Dartmouth Handel Society, Apollo’s Fire, Vox Early Music, Portland Baroque Orchestra, North Carolina Baroque Ensemble, Ensemble VIII, San Antonio Symphony, Early Music Vancouver and Symphony Nova Scotia under direction of Alexander Weimann, and the Oregon Bach Festival under the direction of Matthew Halls.

Not to be held to conventional countertenor repertoire, the “Barn-burning, [...]phenomenal” male alto has a fair amount of non-classical work under his belt. Not long after becoming a countertenor, he was engaged in several musical theatre productions as a principal or secondary role. Most notable among them was the titular role in Rupert Holmes’ Mystery of Edwin Drood, and “Jacey Squires” in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. In addition to his work in musical theatre, he performed many cabaret shows and sets of jazz standards and torch songs in jazz clubs in and around Tokyo, Japan. Reggie studied voice at the University of Florida with Jean Ronald LaFond, and Florida State University with Roy Delp.

Agave Baroque is a dynamic Bay Area ensemble specializing in string chamber music of the seventeenth century. Agave has received numerous awards and accolades, and gained local and national attention for their vibrant performances and growing discography. Now in its sixth season, Agave debuts a new and expanded lineup and continues to be a unique and innovative voice in the early music community.

Agave received its first taste of national exposure less than a year after its inception, when the ensemble was selected by Early Music America to perform in a showcase concert at the APAP Convention in New York. In 2009, The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles commissioned Agave to design a program of music by Henry Purcell and his contemporaries especially for performance in the Museum’s Tula Tea Room. Agave premiered Cold Genius at the MJT in 2010, and subsequently recorded it. In 2011, Early Music America selected Agave Baroque as one of five finalists in the NAXOS/EMA Recording Competition. In 2012, the San Francisco Early Music Society chose Agave to present a main stage concert on the 2012 Berkeley Early Music Festival, about which Early Music America magazine said, “Rapturous music and impressive playing…[Agave Baroque] kept the audience entranced.” Later in 2012, EMA selected Agave to compete in New York as one of six finalists at their Baroque Performance Competition. Agave received a generous grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music to record Friends of Ferdinand, which VGo Recordings released in 2013. This summer, Agave will record Queen of Heaven: Music of Isabella Leonarda with countertenor Reginald L. Mobley, also on the VGo Recordings label.

Agave Baroque has performed to sold-out crowds throughout the Bay Area, including Barefoot Chamber Concerts, Chattanooga Chamber Music, Old First Concerts, Sonoma Bach, and Trinity Chamber Concerts, as well as at Fresno Pacific University, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Arizona Early Music Society, Johnsons of Madrid (NM), and the Berkeley Early Music Festival. On-air appearances include KPFK Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, New Mexico Public Radio, as well as several features on NPR’s Harmonia early music radio program. Agave Baroque has also presented several programs to groups of K-12 educators as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s “Keeping Score” program.

 

Violinist Natalie Carducci performs throughout the United States, appearing in venues ranging from Avery Fisher Hall in New York City to intimate cafes in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is currently based. A versatile chamber and orchestral musician with a special interest in early music, she has recently performed with Bach Collegium San Diego, Pacific Bach Project, El Mundo, The Albany Consort, the San Francisco Bach Choir, One Found Sound, Karl Cronin and the Americana Orchestra, Magik*Magik Orchestra, and is a founding member of MUSA and the Alchemy Trio. In 2012, she won the Voices of Music Bach Competition, giving her the opportunity to perform in their concert series. This season she will also appear on the concert series Noe Valley Chamber Music, Benvenue House Music, and Santa Cruz Chamber Players.

Natalie has collaborated with renowned artists Steven Dann, Kenneth Slowik, James Boyd, and members of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and has appeared in music festivals around the world, including the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, the International Music Academy Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Le Domaine Forget in Quebec, the American Bach Soloists Academy, Vancouver Baroque Instrumental Programme, and the Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra in Aldeburgh, England. Natalie has performed under the baton of Christophe Rousset and Christian Curnyn, and in master classes for Jeanne Lamon, Amandine Beyer, and Rachel Podger, among others.

Passionate about the impact music can have in the lives of children, Natalie teaches at the non-profit Northern California Music and Art Culture Center and has coached inner-city school children through the Chamber Music Connection program in her native city of Columbus, Ohio. Natalie received her Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, her Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music, and her SAA Suzuki Teacher Training at the Hartt Suzuki Institute in Hartford, Connecticut. Her main teachers have included Michael Davis, Laurie Smukler, Calvin Wiersma, Ian Swensen, and Elizabeth Blumenstock. A certified Pilates instructor, Natalie promotes body-mind awareness for sustained physical well-being and enjoys sharing her knowledge with the music community at large.

Kevin Cooper is a classical and baroque guitarist from central California with an affinity for the extremes of modern and early music. He performs regularly as a soloist and with Agave Baroque and Ensemble Mirable. He also appears with Les Surprises Baroque, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, Accademia d’Amore Baroque Opera Workshop, Long Beach Camerata Singers, and the Corona del Mar Baroque Festival Chamber Orchestra. Kevin’s publications range from guitar quartet arrangements of Carlo Farina’s Cappricio Stravagante to a collection of folk and children’s songs entitled Snakes, Snails, and C Major Scales. His recordings include projects with Agave Baroque and Ensemble Mirable as well as Night of Four Moons a CD of modern music for voice and guitar with mezzo-soprano Catherine Cooper on the Doberman-Yppan label. In 2006, he was honored as the Outstanding Doctoral Graduate in music from the University of Southern California, where he studied with William Kanengiser and James Tyler. Currently he leads the guitar program at Fresno City College.

Hailed by The Miami Herald for his “superb continuo… brilliantly improvised and ornamented,” Henry Lebedinsky performs on historical keyboards across the United States and the United Kingdom, both as a soloist and as a member of Agave Baroque, The Vivaldi Project, and The Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. He has also played with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony, Seraphic Fire, Boston Revels, and the Harvard Baroque Orchestra, among others. With his ensemble The Seicento String Band, he has been featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today, and he has performed live on APM’s Pipedreams. He is the founder of the Music @ St. Alban’s concert series in Davidson, North Carolina, and served as interim Artistic Director of Charlotte Chamber Music, Inc. and Director of Rochester, NY’s The Publick Musick. Mr. Lebedinsky has taught master classes and workshops on historical keyboards and performance practice at Edinburgh University, Bowdoin College, Davidson College, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Appalachian State University, and the American Guild of Organists’ 2014 National Convention.

An avid composer of music for choir and organ, his sacred music is published by Carus-Verlag Stuttgart, with several forthcoming works due for release by Paraclete Press in 2015. His poetry and hymns have appeared in Fresh Day Magazine and have been sung in churches across the country. His editions of vocal works of 17th century nun composers for Saltarello Editions have been performed around the world, most recently in France, South Korea, and Lebanon. Lebedinsky holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the Longy School of Music, where he earned a Master of Music in historical organ performance as a student of Peter Sykes. When not at a keyboard instrument, he plays guitar and bouzouki with the Celtic traditional music bands Earl’s Chair and The Beggar Boys, who were recently featured in National Public Radio’s syndicated holiday special A Celtic Christmas from Biltmore Estate with Kathy Mattea. He also blogs about single malt whisky at www.Scotchology.com. A church musician for the past 21 years, he currently serves as Music Administrator and Chancel Choir Director at Edmonds United Methodist Church. More information at www.henrylebedinsky.com

William Skeen plays principal cello in Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica, Pacific Music Works in Seattle, Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, and the Bach Collegium of San Diego. In addition to performing with almost every baroque orchestra on the west coast, he is Associate Principal cellist and Viola da Gamba soloist with the Carmel Bach Festival. Mr. Skeen is a sought-after chamber musician. He co-founded the New Esterhazy Quartet, La Monica, and is a member of the 54th Annual Grammy-nominated ensemble, El Mundo. He has performed with the National Symphony of Mexico, the LA Philharmonic, and the Dallas Symphony, and often tours the Americas with Musica Angelica, the Wiener Akademie of Vienna, and actor John Malkovich.

Mr. Skeen is Adjunct Professor of Baroque Cello and Viola da Gamba at The University of Southern California, founder and co-director of the SFEMS Classical Workshop, and is on the faculty of the American Bach Soloists ACADEMY, and the SFEMS Baroque Workshop. William holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, working with Alan Harris, and a Master of Music degree from U.S.C., studying with Ronald Leonard.

Aaron Westman is in demand as both a period violinist and violist.  He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician with Agave Baroque, American Bach Soloists, El Mundo, Ensemble Mirable, Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, Musica Pacifica, Seicento String Band, Seraphic Fire, and The Vivaldi Project.  As a principal player, Aaron works with ABS, Berkeley West Edge Opera, Bach Collegium San Diego, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Musica Angelica, Magnificat, New Hampshire Music Festival, and Pacific Bach Project, and he also performs regularly with Orchester Wiener Akademie and PhilHarmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Aaron co-directs the award winning chamber ensembles Agave Baroque and Live Oak Baroque Orchestra.  He has recorded for Hollywood, and on the Dorian/Sono Luminus, VGo Recordings, NCA, and Philharmonia Baroque Productions labels, as well as live on KPFK (Los Angeles), WDAV (North Carolina), BBC, ORF (Austria), and as a soloist on NPR’s Harmonia and Performance Today radio programs.  Aaron tours extensively worldwide, including with two projects starring the actor John Malkovich.

Aaron holds a Master of Music from the Indiana University School of Music, where he double-majored in viola performance and early music.  His teachers included Stanley Ritchie, Alan de Veritch, Theodore Arm, and Geraldine Walther.  For three years, Aaron taught baroque strings at CalArts, near Los Angeles.  He is currently Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra.