Old Avocados, New Guacamole

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The number of performances on original or 'period' instruments has exploded since its first practice in the 1970s, giving audiences the chance to hear everything from Binchois to Berlioz on the instruments for which they were written.

A happy side-effect of this movement has been the rediscovery of the potential sound-worlds to be explored on newly-available ancient instruments. Some composers in our own day, recognizing these unique sounds, have composed works for these instruments that pay little to no homage to their roots, asking performers to use them in new and often radical ways. 

Elliott Carter uses the harpsichord to to evoke the sound world of a baroque trio sonata in his Sonata for flute, oboe, cello and harpsichord; Thomas Ades does something similar (with a very different result) in his Sonata da Caccia for horn, baroque oboe, and harpsichord. Mauricio Kagel eschews the baroque aesthetic in his Music for Renaissance Instruments, asking violas da gamba, bombards, curtals, and a host of eccentric percussion instruments to grind, shriek and moan in the most fascinating ways.

Rounding out the program is a piece for viola da gamba in a distinctly late-20th-century language by Paolo Pandolfo. Groove on these tunes while reflecting on how composers will crank out great music for any instruments at their disposal.

This week's world premiere, Ironed Aces, comes from Austin's P. Kellach Waddle. Inspired by the bright lights of Vegas, this fanfare for brass will get you pumped for some awesome new music.