by Daniel Hathaway
“We’ve always treated French music as something very special,” Kenneth Slowik, artistic director of the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, said in a telephone conversation. “It’s one of the two reigning styles in Baroque music that we have to come back to on a regular basis.”
BPI originally rotated annually between studies of the four main national schools of Baroque performance practice — English, German, Italian, and French — but now organizes its summer institutes more thematically. Currently in the second and final week of its 47th season, the BPI faculty is busy teaching the finer points of French Baroque style to 101 students of all ages and levels of accomplishment. “We try to instill in our students some sense of how we do what we do — and why — through teaching, lectures, and by example,” Slowik said.
Before they can assign those students to the weekly chamber groups in which much of the teaching takes place, the faculty have an immense puzzle to put together. “It’s always mysterious who’s going to show up,” Slowik said. “This year we have a raft of bassoonists. Some years we’re light in the flute department and some years it’s overflowing.” [Read more…]