The Baroquelyn name may be new, but we’ve been developing under the radar for quite some time. As music director for Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn Aleeza Meir has spent the last several years putting together ensembles to perform mostly Baroque music for pre-service concerts, which have drawn people from all over the neighborhood and beyond to listen. Those ensembles have evolved under her leadership to become Baroquelyn.
Though Baroquelyn is an independent ensemble, the connection to Old First has been fortuitous in many ways. The church’s Upper Hall, built in the 1880s, is a uniquely wonderful space for what we do. The outstanding acoustics, natural light, central Park Slope location, and well-worn 19th-century charm make the hall an ideal spot for presenting Baroque music. Plus, Old First is Brooklyn’s oldest congregation (founded in 1654) so the connection to history is strong. As an ensemble working with historical music we share an interest in making old things vibrant and new!
Baroquelyn’s mission is to bring music to the Brooklyn community of a quality that would typically only be found in well-established institutions like Carnegie Hall or BAM. We think it is exciting to present chamber music in a more grassroots and intimate way that reaches people who might not already be tuned in to that world. Plus, there’s value to the community in having great music performances available on a local level.
Our debut concert in November packed the house, and featured music ranging from a Handel cantata featuring celebrated countertenor Jeffrey Mandelbaum, to an original, expanded arrangement of a trio sonata, to a rousing conclusion of Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg concerto. Our second concert in May had a marvelous recorder and viola da gamba concerto by Telemann, a Bach chorale prelude featuring trombonist William Lang on a cantus firmus that floated down from the balcony, some light woodwind interludes, and Bach’s splashy 5th Brandenburg at the end (complete with the three-page harpsichord cadenza).
After a successful crowdfunded Kickstarter, we are planning a four-concert season for next year. More details will be coming as the summer progresses.