Houston Early Music kicks off 2017-2018 season with "The Instrument of Kings & the King of Instruments"

American cornetto virtuoso Bruce Dickey will kick off the 2017-18 Houston Early Music Season on Sept. 15 with Dutch organistLiuwe Tamminga in “The Instrument of Kings & the King of Instruments,” a concert of Spanish and Italian late-Renaissance and early-Baroque music.

HOUSTON, TX – Aug. 23, 2017 – Houston Early Music will open its 2017-18 season with a concert of Spanish and Italian late-Renaissance and early-Baroque music for cornetto and organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Friday, Sept. 15. Titled “The Instrument of Kings & the King of Instruments,” the program will feature American cornetto virtuoso Bruce Dickey and Dutch organist Liuwe Tamminga, a specialist in 16th- and 17th-century Italian organ repertoire. The concert will be co-presented with Bach Society Houston.

“The cornetto was the most important wind instrument for 200 years in Europe,” said Dickey, who has spent the last four decades trying to bring it back from the brink of extinction. Once a staple of courts and cathedrals, it fell out of favor about two centuries ago.

Dickey's passion for the instrument led him to move to Italy in 1981 so he could be closer to its original sources. He co-founded an ensemble devoted to the instrument and the Baroque trombone called Concerto Palatino in 1987 in Bologna, where he now lives. His efforts to revive the cornetto won him the Historic Brass Society's Monk Award in 2000 and a Taverner Award in 2007.

He was initially attracted to the instrument by its large and languishing repertoire. Made of wood and with a cupped mouthpiece, the cornetto is famous for imitating the human voice. It was often paired with the organ so intimately that it came to be thought of as “embedded” in the keyboard instrument. The cornetto became the “top voice” of the organ, said Dickey, who will play florid ornamentations above the organ lines.

The concert covers the time when the cornetto was at its peak, roughly from 1550 to 1650. This transitional period between the Renaissance and Baroque witnessed the greatest composer who ever wrote for the instrument, Giovanni Gabrieli. Two canzonas, or instrumental songs, by Gabrieli will open the program.

Other highlights include a motet by the short-lived cornetto player Ascanio Trombetti, who was murdered at age 46 by his lover's jealous husband. There will also be a motet by the polyphonic master Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and a capriccio for organ by the influential Girolamo Frescobaldi. Works by nearly a half-dozen additional composers will round out this evening of secular and sacred music.

“The Instrument of Kings & the King of Instruments,” featuring cornetto player Bruce Dickey and organist Liuwe Tamminga, will take place Friday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd., Houston 77005. A pre-concert talk will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Full-season subscriptions may be purchased for $180 general admission and $155 senior admission. A mini-pass option, which provides a selection of any three concerts, is also available for $110 general admission and $95 for seniors. Individual tickets are available for $40 general admission, $35 senior admission and $10 for students with a valid student ID card. Children under the age of 15 receive free admission.

For more information, email info@HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 281-846-4222.

As the city’s only organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music epitomizes a movement that has swept the world of classical music. Officially incorporated in 1969, the nonprofit provides performance opportunities for up-and-coming and major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series. A successful educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Photo: American cornetto virtuoso Bruce Dickey will kick off the 2017-18 Houston Early Music Season on Sept. 15 with Dutch organistLiuwe Tamminga in “The Instrument of Kings & the King of Instruments,” a concert of Spanish and Italian late-Renaissance and early-Baroque music.


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