Garland City Consort returns to HIT
September 28, 2021
By ZACHARY MARANO
Ironwood — The Garland City Consort played at the Historic Ironwood Theatre for the first time in three years on Sunday. The chamber orchestra performed lesser-known classical music from the baroque period on stage at the theater.
“This is actually the first time we’ve been on a normal performing stage since 2018, but we’ve been performing pretty much constantly since then,” said Alexander McInnes, the concert master and violin player.
The program included “Concerto for Violin & Flute” by Giuseppe Brescianello (1690-1758); “Myself I Shall Adore” from the musical drama “Semele” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759); “Concerto for Flute” by Jean-Marie Leclair (1696-1764); “Concerto for Mandolin” by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741); “Serenade” by Heinrich von Biber (1644-1704); and “Concerto for Violin and Flute” by Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709).
The performance featured works by French and Italian composers in an effort to highlight music from the Baroque period that is not played as frequently by other orchestras.
“Music is political, despite what anyone might claim, and who you bring to the fore is going to tend to be a political choice,” McInnes said. “The French baroque is not celebrated because the musicologists who have been really shaping what is considered canon in the baroque epic have been focused on Germans. There was lots of good German music, but ignoring an entire vein of stunning music is a choice to focus on elevating Germanic-ness and suppressing other concepts and other cultural groups.”
McInnes said that there are problematic aspects to the Germanophile tendencies in classical music scholarship. For example, he said that 19th century German composer Richard Wagner was an anti-Semite and his followers would find Jewish composers and run them out of jobs.
He also said that the classical canon neglects a large amount of great music by lesser-known composers that are worth hearing.
“All of the ensembles that are focused on the baroque work are custodians of this epic, so we have to find what we can and get it out. The more we do it, the more it survives,” McInnes said.
McInnes said that a great online resource for classical music is the International Music Score Library Project, also known as the Petrucci Music Library.
In addition to McInnes, the consort members included Tiffany Darling, soprano and violin; Sharon Hammond, double bass; Paschal Hammond, trombone; Marlene Houge, viola; Rebecca Key, clarinet; John Manno, harp; Eli Morris, clarinet; Neil Paynter, viola; Deb Powers, violoncello; Teresa Rusch, flute; and Fran Strong, mandolin.
The orchestra was also joined on Sunday by Kirk McBrayer on the violincello. McBrayer is known to the community as the K-12 band teacher at Luther L. Wright K-12 School in Ironwood.
McInnes, Darling, Rusch, Paynter and McBrayer have previously performed at the Historical Ironwood Theatre for the classical chamber music series Music in the Mezzanine.
The Garland City Consort was founded in 2016. It is one of the world’s only musician-owned cooperative orchestras, which means that the people making the music also own the company. McInnes said that surpluses are divided among the member-owners at the end of the year based on activity level and they all have a say in big decisions, such as changes to the organization’s bylaws.
“At the core when we started, the intention was to have a very democratic, very egalitarian ensemble. It was a natural evolution as we incorporated to become a cooperative as opposed to a corporate structure or a nonprofit. Because together, we do better,” McInnes said.