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Boston Baroque in Dorchester

Group hosts fifth community concert at the Strand Theatre

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO

On Dec. 30 at 2 p.m., Boston Baroque will perform their fifth annual community concert at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. Boston Baroque is the oldest active “period instrument” orchestra in the United States. The group performs classical compositions by Mozart, Handel, Haydn and others with the types of instruments used in the composers’ time.

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Executive Director Miguel Rodriguez explains that much of the difference in the instruments comes in the way they are made. “They are smaller in size and require different intonation than their contemporary counterparts,” he says. He also notes that instruments of this kind tend to have a more uniform tone and don’t overpower each other.

The flutes and clarinets are made of wood, as opposed to metal, and the drums are covered in lambskin. All of the string instruments use gut strings, which are made from the walls of animal intestines. Because of the unique construction of the instruments, pieces have to be played in a different way to achieve the desired sound. “You get more color and more sound from these instruments,” says Rodriguez.

The difference in sound makes Boston Baroque music best suited for smaller theaters like the Strand. The concert is designed to be a great introduction to classical musical. Boston Baroque will perform Handel’s “Water Music,” Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 1” and Handel’s “Gloria” with soprano Mary Wilson. At only 90 minutes with no intermission, the concert is a good length for children and classical beginners. “We don’t cut anything, we present everything in whole, but in an accessible way,” says Rodriguez. “The works are very fun, very accessible and very festive.”

Boston Baroque’s “Classics for Kids” series was born out of the Strand concert tradition. Children were so engaged in the music that Boston Baroque began offering programs around the city with 30-minute performances for children followed by an instrument “petting zoo.” This way young students are introduced not only to the music but also to the instruments themselves.

Rodriguez believes that classical music itself is quite accessible, but sometimes intimidating venues like Symphony Hall, and their ticket prices, are not. This insight sparked Boston Baroque programming like “Classic for Kids” and the Strand communty concerts.

“Bringing classical concerts to neighborhoods is our way of connecting with the cultural fabric of the city,” says Rodriguez. Free tickets are available for reservation online and at the Uphams Corner branch of the Boston Public Library.

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