Premier lutenist and guitarist John Schneiderman describes himself as “honored” to have been asked to direct Musica Angelica’s upcoming concert, “In Memory of the Masters,” which will pay tribute to the critically acclaimed Baroque orchestra’s founders, Michael Eagan and Mark Chatfield, on Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m. at the Neighborhood Church in Pasadena and Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica. At the same time, Schneiderman ruefully confesses that – considering the profound impact Eagan and Chatfield had on early music performance not only in Los Angeles but around the world – he would have loved to see the tribute extend beyond two performances.
“A truly complete tribute would be a two week festival with dozens of musicians,” said Schneiderman, who has performed with the LA Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, Seattle Baroque, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Chanticleer, Musica Pacifica and the American Bach Soloists in addition to Musica Angelica. “Michael introduced me to the bigger picture of Baroque music. Much of what I know about continuo playing came from him.”
Consequently, when planning “In Memory of the Masters,” Schneiderman programmed works performed byEagan or with him in consort. These include Renaissance lute duets, baroque lute duets and 19th century guitar duets.
“Michael was always extremely generous when we played together, allowing me to present music that I championed,” Schneiderman continues. “So in his honor, I will play one of his favorite pieces: Weiss’s Sonata No. 5 in D minor. The second half of the program will open with a concerto written by Haydn’s lute player, Karl Kohaut, and close with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Lute and Strings.”
The Vivaldi Concerto, Schneiderman adds, was recorded by Eagan on Musica Angelica’s first CD, “Virtual Vivaldi.”
“On that recording Michael played archlute and I played baroque guitar continuo,” says Schneiderman. “This time, I will play the obbligato part on the baroque guitar and Hideki Yamaya will play continuo on a 10-course lute.”
Audiences will also hear a number of songs for lute and voice performed by guest artist Daniel Plaster, tenor, who frequently collaborated with both Chatfield and Eagan.
Musicians joining Schneiderman, Yamaya and Plaster include violinists Janet Strauss and Sue Feldman and cellist William Skeen. Musica Angelica’s principal bass, Denise Briese, will appear as well– playing Chatfield’s composition, “Suite for Gamba Alone,” written in 1997.
“The Suite very much embodies Mark’s spirit,” says Briese. “This will also be an especially moving performance for me because I will be playing Mark’s own viola da gamba, which I purchased from the Chatfield family after Mark’s death.”
Chatfield, a baroque cellist, gambist, composer and countertenor who was also a world class swimmer – setting an Olympic record in Munich in 1972 – died in 1998 of lymphoma. Eagan died unexpectedly from a heart attack 6 years later.
“When Musica Angelica was founded in 1993, Michael and Mark wanted to create a high quality, professional and authentic baroque ensemble for Los Angeles,” says Managing Director Laura Spino. “I know they will be with us in spirit at these November performances They will be proud and very, very pleased that Musica Angelica has remained true to their vision and never wavered from their commitment to presenting historically informed performances as lovely and virtuosic as any presented worldwide.”