Our orchestra sponsors an annual event in October for string players called "Play-for-a-Day" and in 2011 it was particularly successful. The theme was Baroque music and such a simple way of unifying the day had considerable appeal. There is something about this music genre that resonates clearly with our own times. Naturally, the beautiful music room at Pauntley Court, a sunny day and a great group of musical personalities all added their contribution but I also thought it would be worth a few words exploring where this particular music came from and why it is so relevant to our techno. age and discover where the resonance comes from.
When anything is put in a context it can become meaningful. In fact, unless "anything" has a context, connection, a place in the world, it is meaningless and irrelevant. During that day, I introduced one or two facts about the times in which the music was created to see if this affected our appreciation and enjoyment of it. For example, what has relatively recently become known as the Baroque period in music covers roughly 1600 to 1750. During the seventeenth century, there were two main influences at work, one in northern Germany and Holland, the other at the other end of Europe in Italy, more specifically in Rome. Prior to this period, musical harmony and counterpoint developed primarily in devotional church music. Then, in Northern Europe, this developed much further, especially in the art of fugue. In the Italian enclave, there was much more concern for the form of the music and this also developed - the concerto grosso, sonata form, etc.