Adelaide Baroque Orchestra

An innovative and very popular recent development by Adelaide Baroque has been the formation of its orchestra to perform larger works of the huge baroque repertoire for Adelaide and SA audiences.

For the last three years the Adelaide Baroque Orchestra has performed numerous concerts in beautiful Adelaide venues such as Elder Hall, Ukaria, The Festival Centre, St Peter’s Cathedral and continued the ever popular “Café Zimmermann” at Burnside Town Hall  (recollecting the style of the famous coffee house in Leipzig where Bach and Telemann played).

These concerts with vocalists such as Max Reibl and Bethany Hill have received critical acclaim and often drawn capacity audiences. Calling on a core group of strings and continuo and enhanced by wind and brass instruments and percussion, the orchestra performs works of Bach, Händel Vivaldi, Telemann and Purcell (amongst others), the very subtle and refined French repertoire (such as Lully and Charpentier) as well as less well known masters.

This is truly an enriching addition to Adelaide’s musical culture!


Adelaide Baroque Orchestra

Why play on historic instruments?

The instruments of the Baroque (1685-1750) were built and developed alongside the creation of the music of that era.

Their subtle and warm sounds blend incredibly well and “teach” the players to shape, judge and interpret the music.

Playing these old instruments (or copies of them) thus gives the player the ideal musical “palate”.

What is the music for these baroque instruments?

The term baroque comes from the Italian and Spanish word “barocca” and had been used to describe a “misshapen pearl”. The baroque was a time of dramatic contrast and great subtlety. The expression and clarity of the words of vocal music was extremely important.

Many composers of the late baroque wrote oratorios, operas, masses and motets but the instrumental music was equally expressive and important; the instruments imitated the voices and became a virtuosic part of the immense baroque repertoire.

Some great composers of the Baroque were:

Monteverdi, Caccini, Vivaldi, JS Bach, Corelli, Händel and Rameau to name just a few!

How do we approach the music?

Adelaide Baroque Orchestra aims to bring music to life with a lively, relevant interpretation for the 21st century but with a reference to what we know of the performance practices of the Baroque. Besides playing on instruments for which the music was intended, the players have developed a style that matches historical instructions as well as expressing their own ideas which vary from one interpretation to the next. Baroque interpretation is rather like a common language between the players.

In this way playing baroque music is truly a “living art” – a piece will change subtly in the hands of wonderful players every time it is performed! The lightness, drama and exaggeration in any interpretation is very flexible!

Visitors and locals

We choose the music and arrange the orchestra second!

In Adelaide we draw on many local players who have become skilled in the playing and interpretation of old music. The baroque orchestra was a flexible ensemble – a string group of violins, violas, celli and violone plus a variety of wind instruments along with the ever present “basso continuo” (a bass line with a melodic and harmonic instrument). Apart from the basso continuo and a body of string players at its centre, the baroque orchestra was very flexible, wind instruments and percussion are added according to the character of a movement, oboes often doubling the violins. The orchestra often accompanies singers and instrumental soloists – invited for their flair and virtuosity in historically informed performance.