The timeless sounds of baroque music will rise from the stage of Dixon Hall this Sunday afternoon as New Orleans’ crème de la crème of classical musicians present their annual concert at Tulane University.
But Lyrica Baroque, an ensemble of five orchestra instrumentalists and a world-renowned opera singer, will offer more than the baroque music that has been its trademark since it began five years ago.
Sunday’s concert, titled “Baroque and Beyond,” will be just that: baroque, plus music from the periods that followed.
In addition to baroque chamber pieces by C.P.E. Bach, the two-hour concert will also feature works by composers from the classical and romantic periods, including Mozart, Rossini and Schubert.
“Every year, we’ve pretty much stuck religiously to the baroque repertoire, but this year, we wanted to show that we can play more than that. That’s why we’re calling it ‘Baroque and Beyond,’ ” said Jaren Atherholt, founder and oboist.
Atherholt, the principal oboist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, added, “We call ourselves ‘Opera Fusion,’ a combination of chamber music and operatic drama. It’s a really unique group and we do opera arias but we also do the more intimate genre of chamber music.”
In addition to Atherholt, Lyrica Baroque consists of violinist Joseph Meyer, former concertmaster for the LPO; Daniel Lelchuk, LPO’s assistant principal cellist; Atherholt’s husband, LPO assistant principal bassoonist Benjamin Atherholt; Canadian pianist Angela Park; and operatic soprano Sarah Jane McMahon, whose credits include leading roles at The Met as well as in her native New Orleans.
On Sunday, McMahon will sing Franz Schubert’s “Nacht und Traume” and a Mozart aria, “Deh vieni, non tardar” from “The Marriage of Figaro.” Park will accompany her on piano.
Discussing the origins of Lyrica Baroque, Atherholt said, “I love chamber music, but the chamber repertoire is not nearly as extensive for wind players as it is for strings or piano.
“But, in the Baroque period there’s so much, especially for oboe and voice,” Atherholt added. “That’s why I created this group. I wanted to play this music and I wanted to have the experience of having a regular chamber music ensemble where you get to know people really well and perform with them regularly.”
Atherholt envisions doing more than just one concert a year for the ensemble. “We want our presence to grow in the New Orleans community,” she said. “Our goal is to bring a really special cultural experience to New Orleans and help expose classical and chamber music to audiences that maybe have never been exposed to it before.”
Margaret Shields, president of New Orleans Friends of Music, which is collaborating with Lyrica Baroque on Sunday’s event, commented, “This is going to be a wonderful concert. They are all such fantastic musicians.”
Shields, who has presided over NOFOM for the past three years, is stepping down from her top position on July 1. She will be succeeded by Jonathan McCall, and she will remain on the organization’s board of directors as chairwoman of its Education Committee.
“It was a lot of work, but the music we presented was absolutely fabulous.” Shields said. “I think things are moving in the right direction, and we’re bringing in the best chamber music that you can get.”