Cedar Hill — On Saturday, Aug. 17, Lumedia Musicworks presented an intriguing performance at Susan and Tim Clifford’s magnificent Cedar Hill mansion. It was an elegant evening. The venue was remarkable: three stories of superb architectural appointments and festooned with remarkable furnishings. Valet parking was complimentary, and some amazing food was prepared in courses by Texas celebrity chef, Ken Patrick. His title was earned by being featured on television cooking shows such as The Travel Channel’s Fiery Foods Challenge and he won a season five episode of The Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games.
The concert itself was an exploration of ancient music from the Middle Ages up to Bach and played on historically correct instruments: all carefully constructed recreations. The artists were some of the most highly respected purveyors of authentic performance practices of the era in the Metroplex. The performance started out in the sitting room on the home’s main floor but migrated to the third floor ballroom during the second intermission, which was a much better performance space (lots of steps, but worth the climb).
On the down side, the program was overly long, lasting from 6:30 pm to nearly 10 pm. Those unfamiliar with this specialized repertoire spent the evening at sea as there was not a program. Further, all of the vocal selections were in foreign languages and translations were sadly wanting. The excellence of the performances made up for these deficits, but it would have been much more enjoyable if better curated.
The selections ranged from an aria from Handel’s opera Rinaldo to part of Bach’s “Coffee Cantata.” Medieval music was represented by some selections by the era’s most prolific composer: “Anonymous.” The star of this set was Vatsal Dave’s strumming on the sitar. Another instrument of interest was the dulcimer as played by Thane Isaac, also one of the baroque violinists.
There were some excellent singers on the program, both familiar to Dallas audiences: Julianna Emanski in the duo role of soprano and Lumedia Artistic Director, and guest artist Gabrielle Gilliam. The concertmaster of this unusual ensemble was the marvelous Stephanie Noori, playing the viola da gamba and Baroque violin. She is memorable to concertgoers because she takes great enjoyment in playing every note, something sadly missing from a lot of professional musicians these days.
The other musicians were: Molly Hammond (harpsichord, portative organ), Christopher Phillpott (baroque cello, viola da Gamba), Ethan Rouse (baroque viola), Randy Ian (baroque bass), and Jesus Pacheco (early percussion).
This event was a fundraiser for Lumedia Musicworks as well as a successful attempt to introduce house concerts to Cedar Hill, not usually thought of as a hotbed of esoteric music performances. But, why not? This is a wealthy community with distinguished residents, and many of them were in attendance. It should be fertile territory for similar artistic endeavors.