Edith Hines, violin † John Chappell Stowe, organ and harpsichord


Ensemble SDG, a violin and keyboard duo formed in 2009,

performs music spanning the entire Baroque period, with a

particular focus on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Recording progress

We are getting closer to releasing our recording (nearly four years in the making) of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach for violin and keyboard. The actual recording of the music was finished in May 2012 (see "A busy summer"), but we have now finished editing the tracks (and—this was the fun part—determining the timing between them) and are working on mixing and mastering them. Thanks to Buzz Kemper of Madison's Audio for the Arts for his excellent and patient work on this phase of the project (in addition to being the engineer for all our in-town recording sessions)!

Also in progress is the writing of the liner notes. If you've read the program notes for any of our recitals, you can guess why this step is taking a while.

We are pleased to have a label under which the album will be released once it's finished; for that important detail, stay tuned for our announcement of the project's completion.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fringe Concert redux

We should have posted about last Friday’s recital before the better part of six days had gone by, but the days were too filled with concerts, exhibition-related activities, and travel to write about the highlight of our Boston trip.  And yes, it was a highlight: the performance went well, we had a most appreciative audience, and all instrument makers involved were pleased with the collaboration.

Here is the final list of instrument makers:
Warren Ellison (violin after N. Amati)
Timothy G. Johnson (violin after A. Amati)
Dmitry Badiarov and apprentices (violin)
Gabriela Guadalajara (violin after Stainer)
Daniel Larson (violin after A. Amati)
Francis Beaulieu (piccolo violin)
A. David Moore (continuo organ)

You can visit the Gamut Music website to watch a short video taken by Daniel Larson of the opening sections of “The Ascension.”

Edith had a grand time visiting the luthiers’ exhibit booths on Saturday to try out their violins in normal tuning and on other repertoire (Bach and Fontana).  Now that she could listen to the violins without an agenda of matching them to specific pieces, she enjoyed hearing how much each instrument’s sound had opened up after having been played for a couple of weeks (and, in some cases, having had slight adjustments).  She found herself equally disappointed and relieved not to be in the market for a new instrument!

One of the wonderful aspects of Friday’s recital, as well as the previous Saturday’s in Madison, was the opportunity to feature readings of biblical prophecies relating to each of the “portraits” in our program—whether predicting the event itself or sharing an “affect” with the respective partita—and to print the events’ narratives along with the program notes:
Annunciation—Isaiah 7:14 with Luke 1:26–38
Presentation—Isaiah 42:6–7 with Luke 2:25–35
Resurrection—Job 19:25 with Matthew 28:1–10
Descent of the Holy Spirit—Joel 2:28–29 with selections from Acts 2

Our thanks to Murray Somerville for gracing the Boston performance with his readings, and to the Rev. Franklin Wilson for doing so in the Madison performance.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Piccolo violin

When I (Edith) proposed our upcoming demonstration recital to a number of luthiers earlier this spring, one maker who was interested was Francis Beaulieu of Montreal.  However, being primarily a viol maker, he told me he wouldn't have a standard violin available at BEMF—but he would have a piccolo violin.  I have never even heard live, much less played, a piccolo violin, which is a small violin tuned a minor third higher than the standard violin and known primarily for its solo role in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1.  Still, since I've wanted for a while to try my hand at the instrument, I have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity for the last two months.

This afternoon I finally got to meet Beaulieu and try out the instrument.  It was even smaller than I was expecting (body length approximately one-third less than a full-size violin), but strangely not as difficult to finger as I had feared.  (No, my first few attempts were not exactly in tune, but gradually the pitches became recognizable!)  And a comparison with the other violins I'll be playing showed that the piccolo violin should be able to hold its own alongside them—provided it can hold its own under the other performance conditions (namely, in a large church and with an organ).  The final decision will have to wait, then, until our rehearsal on Thursday evening, but I'm hopeful.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Biber week begins

Last evening we had the great pleasure of presenting our latest program, "Youth, Power, and Wisdom: Biber's Pictures of the Life of Christ," at Luther Memorial Church in Madison as a preview performance of our upcoming Fringe Concert at the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF).  The program includes six of Biber's partitas on the Mysteries of the Rosary:

     I. The Annunciation
     IV. The Presentation
     X. The Crucifixion
     XI. The Resurrection
     XII. The Ascension
     XIII. The Descent of the Holy Spirit

(Thanks to Marika Fischer Hoyt for the photos.)

In Boston, the recital will double as a demonstration recital for luthiers displaying their work at the BEMF Exhibition.  Edith has been working in advance with instruments by four of the luthiers—Warren Ellison, Gabriela Guadalajara, Timothy Johnson, and Daniel Larson—and is looking forward to meeting more makers and their instruments in the next few days!

Chappy will also be doing an instrument demonstration of sorts: his instrument in Boston will be a new continuo organ by A. David Moore of Vermont (Moore, however, is not exhibiting at BEMF).

This was our first time performing a full recital with our colleague and friend Philip Spray on violone.  What fun to play "The Ascension" at last with the proper instrument for the violone solo marked in the "Aria Tubicinum"!

We leave tomorrow for Boston and will keep you updated throughout the week.  If you'll be at BEMF, we hope to see you at our recital: Friday, June 14, at 9:00 a.m. at First Lutheran Church.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Update on February 14 performance

If you were planning to attend our February 14 Convocation recital at Wheaton College, we regret to inform you that it has been canceled.  Our thanks go to Prof. Edward Zimmerman for his help in trying to reschedule us for later this spring, but the Convocation calendar was already full.  We do, however, hope to reschedule the performance for next fall, so please stay tuned!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year!

We wish you all a happy new year, and we hope to be able to play for you—in person—sometime soon!  In the meantime we've put up another sample recording, this one from our performance at the opening concert of the Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen series (at the Chazen museum on the UW-Madison campus).  We thought you might enjoy hearing our arrangement of Boccherini's Fandango for violin, harpsichord and percussion.  Thanks a million to Laura Guse, our percussionist!