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The Mission of Baroque Band, Chicago's period-instrument orchestra, is:
- to present the highest quality performances of baroque music using period instruments and historically informed performance techniques;
- to inform and educate the public - locally, regionally, and nationally - about music from the baroque era;
- to provide opportunities for students of all levels to gain hands-on experience with with period-instruments and techniques; and
- to serve as musical ambassadors for the City of Chicago.
As the city's only period-instrument orchestra, Baroque Band has brought Chicago to the forefront of an exciting international trend in classical music. Founded in 2007, the ensemble has quickly risen to international acclaim: in 2010, BBC Music Magazine named Baroque Band among America's top five early music ensembles.
Over time, instruments and playing styles have evolved, and today's orchestras differ greatly from those of Bach and Handel’s lifetimes. Baroque Band uses baroque era instruments and replicas to recreate the sound of the baroque orchestra, entirely distinct from the sound of modern orchestras. The resulting experience is both artistic and historical: the music is heard much as the composers themselves may have heard it centuries ago.
The study and performance of period instruments is a relatively new endeavor in the United States. There are several noteworthy American ensembles that perform repertoire from the baroque era, yet few use the instruments of the time period.
Baroque Band’s artistic director, Garry Clarke, enjoyed a successful career as a baroque violinist in Great Britain before coming to the United States in 2004 to complete a fellowship in arts management at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His travels eventually brought him to Chicago, where he has lived since 2006.
"I realized that there had been past attempts to establish a period-instrument orchestra in Chicago, but none had ever really flourished. The practice of period-instrument performance was much more limited in the States than it was in Europe. I saw the opportunity to create something new in Chicago, and hoped Baroque Band would inspire more musicians and institutions to explore period-instrument performance."
Baroque Band was founded in 2007, and Clarke’s vision of a fresh and energetic period instrument ensemble is alive and well. The Band presents four subscription programs a year, each performed in three diverse Chicago area locations: Downtown at Symphony Center, in Hyde Park at Augustana Lutheran Church, and in Evanston at the Music Institute of Chicago. Baroque Band ensures broad geographical reach with locations that are easily accessible.
The Band has an enthusiastic following of supporters that can best be described as "fans." Captivated by Clarke’s charismatic direction and transported by the ensemble’s dynamic performances, first-time audience members are quickly enchanted by the Baroque Band culture, becoming frequent concertgoers, subscribers and supporters.