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Zelenka Revived


Many music groups try to create names for themselves that make it abundantly clear what they do, even at the risk of its sounding pedestrian. Then there are the others, diametrically opposite, like the Boston Zelenka Project, that thrive on obscurantism. The idea is to be intriguing.  The Boston Zelenka Project is just that. The brain-child of friends from graduate school at New England Conservatory, the group has put together a debut concert on the works of the German Baroque that plays on a little-known composer, Jan  Dismas Zelenka. Their first concert is to be Thursday, January 20, at 7 pm at St. John’s Church, 1 Roanoake Ave., Jamaica Plain as a presentation of JP Concerts. For those who do not know the place, it is a charming English-style country stone church with what many consider commendable acoustics.

Active in Dresden from about 1710 to 1730, Zelenka fell into obscurity, according to Cameron Kirkpatrick, one of the two oboists with the group, because he composed very little secular music, so that when the revival of interest in baroque music was underway thanks to Mendelssohn et al, “Zelenka was left behind. There was nothing for an amateur performer to buy and take home to work on.”  Kirkpatrick’s compatriots in this effort include fellow oboist Ben Fox, bassoonist Sebastian Chaves, and harpsichordist Akiko Sato. Fox and Kirkpatrick studied with John Ferillo, principal oboe of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Chaves, a native of Costa Rica, also received a master’s degree from NEC. Akiko Sato came from Japan to study at McGill University before coming to Boston.

The Project intends to tackle Zelenka’s only secular works, all six Trio Sonatas, in a series of concerts with music of his contemporaries, for context.  So the first concert includes works of Georg Philipp Telemann and Zelenka’s pupil, Johann Joachim Quantz. Telemann’s Bassoon Sonata in F Major will feature bassoonist Chaves. The Quantz G Major Trio Sonata, written originally for two flutes, will be performed for two oboes and basso continuo. All four will also be playing the Zelenka.  One other concert is already booked and the group is working on additional outings. They are also planning to add other musicians. Watch the BMInt “Coming Event” space for more information.

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