Lunchbox Concert with Guest Artists Lindsey Strand-Polyak and Alexa Haynes-Pilon

Friday – April 13, 2018

12:30 p.m. – UO Berwick Hall


“No Keyboard Attached: Performing Sonatas Sans Cembalo



Lindsey Strand-Polyak, baroque violin and Alexa Haynes-Pilon, baroque cello

Ciaconna for Solo Violincello, Giovanni Battista Vitali       
Sonata a2 per violino e basso from Concerti Ecclesiastici, Giovanni Paolo Cima
Sonata Quarta from Ozio Regio Op. 7, Marco Uccellini
Ciaccona per violino e violincello, Giuseppe Colombi
Sonata No. 9 Op. 5, Arcangelo Corelli


Despite the near ubiquitous presence of a harpsichord in performances of early music on modern concert stages, the historical record presents a different story. The classic harpsichord-cello continuo duo was far from normal, particularly in the seventeenth century. To make matters even more confusing, period treatises (such as those by Corrette) extol performing primarily with a solo bass instrument, and violinists such as Vivaldi and Corelli specified sonata collections for Violine e Violone o Cembalo together.

In this lecture-concert, we confront this disjunction, presenting sonatas sans cembalo o chitarrone. We will focus on music from late seventeenth-century Italy, where this practice of keyboard-less continuo playing may have been done. While we will situate this within the historical framework of the violin band tradition and culture at the Este court in Modena, more importantly, we want to demonstrate through live performance how this was done. By removing the keyboard or plucked instrument backdrop, the audience is drawn in by the heightened risk of the performance, foregrounding the true sense of sonatas a due. It also highlights the crucial role that the bassline performer has in shaping the drama of the music. This treble-bass aesthetic would have paired perfectly with intimate court performances or academia presentations. By showcasing music of the seventeenth century with a keyboard-less aesthetic, we hope to shed light on our own preconceived expectations of what basso continuo means to musicking audiences and performers today, and what new (old) possibilities and challenges are opened up by thinking beyond the keyboard.

Praised for her “rococo gracefulness”, Lindsey Strand-Polyak is active throughout the West Coast as a baroque violinist and violist. Nationally, she performs with ensembles such as the American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Pacific MusicWorks and Bach Collegium San Diego, and Austin Baroque Orchestra; and has appeared at the Oregon Bach Festival, Twin Cities Early Music Festival, Montana Early Music Festival and the Fringe Series of both Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals. In her home base of Southern California, she can be heard with her own group, Ensemble Bizarria, as well as Musica Angelica, Con Gioia Early Music Ensemble, Tesserae, and Concordia Clarimontis. Dr. Strand-Polyak was the assistant director for the UCLA Early Music Ensemble from 2011-2015, and is artistic director of Los Angeles Baroque—Southern California’s first community Baroque orchestra. Lecture-recitals include McGill University, University of Texas at Austin, Northern State University of Louisiana, and national meetings of the American Musicological Society. She has served on the faculty of the Colburn School and the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA, and was recently appointed adjunct professor of baroque violin and viola at Claremont Graduate University. She earned her PhD/MM in musicology and violin performance from UCLA, studying historical performance with Elisabeth LeGuin and modern violin with Guillaume Sutre and Movses Pogossian.

Recently described by Early Music America as “a special artist with a brilliant future,” Alexa Haynes-Pilon has quickly established herself in the California early music scene performing on baroque cello, viola da gamba, baroque bassoon and dulcian. She has performed with the Los Angeles Chamber Choir, Ergo Musica, the American Ballet Company, the Los Angeles Baroque Players, Con Gioia, and has performed as principal cello with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. She has also co-founded two Los Angeles-based early music chamber groups, Concitato 415 and Ensemble Bizarria. In Toronto, she performed with Tafelmusik and Accenti Vocali, and was a founding member of the early music ensemble, Rezonance. She has appeared in most of the major early music festivals in North America including the Tafelmusik Winter and Summer Institutes, the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco, Vancouver Early Music Festival, and the Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals. After completing her BM and MM in cello performance at Brandon University, Alexa Haynes-Pilon earned a performance certificate from the University of Toronto in connection with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, studying cello with Christina Mahler and viola da gamba with Jöelle Morton. Alexa recently finished her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, where she studied baroque cello and viola da gamba with William Skeen, and baroque bassoon and dulcian with Charlie Koster.

Alexa’s passion is to create music and connect with members of the community, and because of this, she co-founded and is the Artistic Director of Los Angeles Baroque. In addition, for the past four years she has exposed thousands of elementary and secondary school students to Renaissance and baroque winds and viols through her work with the Crumhorn Collective, in collaboration with Ars Lyrica Houston’s outreach program in Houston, TX.


*All Musicking Conference Events are Free and Open to the Public
**All events are subject to change



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