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Classical 101

Gypsy Baroque: Red Priest In The Classical 101 Studio

The English early music group Red Priest performs in the Classical 101 studio.
Nick Houser
The English early music group Red Priest performs in the Classical 101 studio.

Routine is great, but once in a while it’s good to leave the box of familiarity and do something a tad off-plumb.

Enter Red Priest.

The British baroque ensemble visited the Classical 101 studios recently to play music in the irreverent, gloves-off style that has long defined the group’s approach to baroque music.

Red Priest's unique brand of iconoclasm comes from a spirit of curiosity that fills the nooks and crannies of unanswered questions with imagined possibilities.

For instance: What connection did baroque masters like Telemann and Biber have with the wildly virtuosic gypsy musicians of their day? Documents might or might not ever tell the full story. But what if … ?

Asking "what if?" has led Red Priest to some stunningly original interpretations of baroque repertoire, some of which you can hear in the audio or see in the video below – interpretations like the sizzling performance they gave of the Presto movement of a Concerto in E minor by Telemann in the Classical 101 studio. Or their flamboyant interpretation of Canarios by Gaspar Sanz.

Lest you think Red Priest’s unusual, sometimes even outrageous, interpretations are only for shock value, consider this.

Our picture of baroque music in its own day – how it was conceived, how it was performed, who experienced it and in what contexts – is necessarily incomplete because we are far removed from that time. What if imagination and creativity can help us get us closer to the way what we call baroque music might really have been experienced then?

Or perhaps better yet. What if imagination and creativity can help us see and hear new possibilities that resonate with us in a special way today?

What if …?

Red Priest visited the Classical 101 studio as a part of their stop in Columbus for a performance with Early Music in Columbus series.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.