Those who get to hear Baroque music on authentic Baroque instruments are lucky--groups that play on period instruments are almost exclusively based in larger metropolitan areas, in part because of the degree of specialization required to play these instruments, and also because of the unfortunate assumption that the audience must also be comprised of specialists.
The average ear can tell the difference between modern and period instruments, and the average listener can revel in the magic of time travel through sound. Just as a tin whistle is easily distinguishable from a wooden Native American flute, the bright, focused sound of modern violin strings are a far cry from Baroque strings, which are made of dried animal gut and produce a mellow, haunting sound to our modern ears. In fact, I would say that the experience of hearing period instruments could easily transport even the most casual listeners--and who wouldn't want to fly to a totally different era or dimension without setting foot outside the performance space?
During Week Two of the festival's themed summer program of concerts, titled "Baroque and Before" (Thursday, August 19th through Saturday, August 21st), listeners will get to hear instruments and vocal styles from other eras--all the way back to Gregorian chant, some of the earliest music for which we have a written record that even remotely resembles our modern notation system.
Lionheart, a six-voice male ensemble specializing in Gregorian chant, will perform during this week of time travel. When you consider what the Kansas City Star called "a host of dynamic subtleties" and what the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel called "impeccable skill and nuance," this group's achievements are both rare and not-so-rare--if like me you believe in the subtlety and nuance of all of our brains as we hear birds outside or wonder about scents in the coffee shop.