Arcadia Players - New England's Period Instrument Ensemble
Listen to Gregory Hayes play Tombeau de Mr. de Chambonnieres by Henri D’Anglebert HERE:
Arcadia Players embraces
practice to illuminate
and invigorate the
great Western heritage
of vocal and
MEET THE (ARCADIA) PLAYERS
(Greg is a member of the AP board)
1. How did you become associated with Arcadia Players, and what attracted you to early music?
I’ve played (harpsichord and organ) in many Arcadia Players concerts over the years, and have attended almost all of AP’s presentations. As a young pianist I had a goodly helping of Bach. As a teenager (it may have been in eighth grade) I heard my first recording of a harpsichord (it may have been Ralph Kirkpatrick, or perhaps Sylvia Marlowe). I was hooked. I just loved the sound.
2. What would you say to potential concertgoers to encourage them to try period-instrument performances?
I came of concert-going and CD-listening age in the early days of the period-instrument movement in early music, and what I heard opened my ears—I realized that Vivaldi was not just “sewing-machine music” after all! Revelations can come in more recent music, too: several years ago, I had the privilege of playing Debussy on an 1893 Erard piano, and I learned a lot from hearing his music as he heard it--it helped me shape my interpretation. Period-instrument performance can make us experience even familiar music in new ways.
3. Have you ever experienced a musical disaster?
Many years ago I was part of a concert featuring a superb English violinist; I was playing harpsichord. The concert was designed as a benefit but also as a community-outreach event that included some local student musicians, one of whom was a percussionist. Because of scheduling challenges, no run-through of the entire program had been possible.
The first piece was “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (played by the “pros”). The first movement went smoothly. The second movement, according to the poetic text that appears in Vivaldi’s score, depicts the falling rain, beginning with an elegant violin solo accompanied by pizzicato strings. Unfortunately—but memorably—the student percussionist mistook this for the beginning of the second piece on the program, a medley entitled “The Festive Sounds of Hanukkah”—which included, a few measures in, a fortissimo snare-drum solo. The young player began this with great enthusiasm. This came as a surprise to all of us, including the soloist, who instantaneously stopped playing and doubled over in laughter. The rest of us soldiered on for a moment or two, until the second snare-drum solo came, sounding a little less authoritative than the first. Eventually we all ground to a halt. The young drummer was embarrassed but he recovered—and we all got through the rest of the concert. I don’t remember what else we played, but I do remember that we were all smiling.
4. What composer’s music speaks to you in a special way? Why?
Johann Sebastian Bach, of course—but what baroque musician would say otherwise? And many others: for sheer, if sometimes subtle, variety, Georg Philipp Telemann; for his dramatic sense and deft setting of text, Heinrich Schütz. And there’s Johann Theile. (I spent two years creating a performing edition of his wonderful St. Matthew Passion; it was the first Arcadia production to be displaced by the coronavirus.)
5. Is there any musical event in the last eight months that epitomizes for you the strangeness of these times?
I teach piano students at Dartmouth; some of them are in-person and others remote. The students who are not currently on campus—about half of the student body—are for the most part currently living at home.
I have one student who’s at home in Kazakhstan. Our weekly internet connection thus far has been very reliable. But in the middle of one recent session it broke off…and then resumed a few minutes later. My student explained that the ongoing social unrest in neighboring Kyrgyzstan was causing periodic internet outages in Kazakhstan! To me this was a bizarre but memorable intersection of the microcosmic (my iPad screen in Hanover) and the macrocosmic (political unrest halfway around the world).