Musica Poetica is a Baroque music ensemble based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, committed to excellent, audience-engaging, historically-informed performances. Founded in 2016 by violist Tatiana Friesen, harpsichordist Carol Piller, and flautist Nancy Hennen, we have produced several enthusiastically attended salon-style concerts, most of them in the cozy atmosphere of Dalnavert Museum and Visitors' Centre.
Our format is simple: about 60 minutes of music, interspersing solo pieces to feature individual instruments with selections for the whole ensemble. The performers give verbal introductions to the pieces, ranging from the personal to the academic. Since the programme is relatively short, there is no intermission; instead, we enjoy visiting with our audiences afterwards over lemonade or tea (as the season dictates).
All of our performers have some familiarity with Baroque performance practice: a few of us have university degrees in the style, while others have participated in professional development programs, and others have studied privately with various leading performers. We are all still learning, and our rehearsals are lively with discussions regarding historical and musical justifications for this or that interpretation.
A note on audience behaviour
21st-century classical audiences are accustomed to the unspoken rules of the concert hall: sit still; hold your applause until the end of a piece, even if it has breaks; suppress sneezes and coughs; etc. While Musica Poetica appreciates a certain respect for the work we do onstage, we’re interested in challenging the stiffness that comes from silencing the audience. And since these unspoken rules are socially constructed, to reinforce them is, we believe, to contribute to the elitism that has grown up around Western classical music. It’s also worth noting that the music we play was largely written for banquets, dances, worship services, political ceremonies, and other socially involved events; the idea of silent passive listening only developed a couple of centuries later. We're not advocating a wholesale return to 18th-century practices (impossible), but we think there's potential for creative attentiveness. It is our hope that if something in our performance awakens a response, you would feel free to express it. Draw or knit, stretch your legs at the back of the hall, and clap or dance or sigh, as the music leads.
"Very enjoyable evening."
"WOW! That was a brain-spa! THANK YOU. The best part (almost) was your explanations of the pieces. This is something that sets you apart."
"Lovely! Do concerts on a regular basis."
"Way to go! So inclusive + warm."
"Loved the concert, especially the bass viol."
"Truly enjoyed your concert—also, the short intro to each piece, + the color + arrangements of the instrumental + vocal."
"Beautifully executed music! I love & appreciated your audience etiquette notes. I felt fully able to relax & enjoy the music. You are all excellent musicians! xoxo Over too soon! Encore!"
"What a treat for the soul. The sound of [harpsichord] plucking is so amazing. The harmony of the flute, viola and harpsichord just amazing."
"Amazing! Harpsichord a beautifully constructed instrument."
"I think I’ve fallen in love with Baroque music!"
"I loved it—waiting for the next one. Thanks!"
"Fantastic concert!! Glad to have Baroque music back in Winnipeg."
"I love how all of you were “living” the music as you performed. Thank you!"
"Lovely concert. I particularly enjoyed the sarabande la d’Armagnac. And the Vilsmayr was just plain fun! Well done!"
"Lovely music ladies! Looking forward to the next concert."
"Really enjoyed the Couperin + Fischer."
"Very nice. I like having some solo + duet pieces to break it up a bit. Thanks."
"Lovely—where else does one get to hear a harpsichord!!"
"Most delightful harmony!"