Burning River Baroque Kicks Off 8th Season With a Look at Madness

Wed 8/21-Sat 8/24

We’re intrigued by Cleveland’s mini-ensemble Burning River Baroque, a veritable Little Engine That Could. Formed by co-directors, harpischordist Paula Maust and soprano Malina Rauschenfels, Burning River Baroque distinguishes itself from its more established competition by organizing its period music into programs that comment on contemporary issues, and connect the past with the present. Its upcoming season, for instance, will look at 17th-century women and mental health-related issues, and how attitudes connecting the two have changed and affected women’s lives over the centuries.

The group chugs into its 8th season, jumping ahead the post-Labor Day starts of most local classical music series. Its first program is called “A Mad, Burning Desire,” looking at the first British actresses legally allowed to perform in public in the 1660s Restoration Theatre era (It’s well known that Shakespeare’s heroines were played by men). Many of their roles involved women driven mad by love, with over-the-top mad scenes an attraction, as concepts of medical illness came to be thought of as medical rather than spiritual issues.

Mad songs by composers such Henry Purcell, John Eccles, Godfrey Finger and John Blow that were performed on London stages in the 1690s comprise the core of “A Mad, Burning Desire,” performed by Rauschenfels and Maust, who will connect these pieces with contemporary stigmas around mental health.

They’ll perform in Yellow Springs, Ohio Wed 8/21; at a house concert in Cleveland Heights Thu 8/22 @ 7:30pm (RSVP@burning-river-baroque.org for address); at Art House Inc in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood Fri 8/21 @ 7pm; and at a house concert in Fairlawn Sat 8/24 @ 7:30pm (RSVPFairlawn@burning-river-baroque.org for address). More performances of the concert will take place in October.

Go to www.burning-river-baroque.org for more information.

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