Salsa Baroque, performed by the Montreal-based Ensemble Caprice, is one of the most intriguing concerts in the Felicja Blumental International Chamber Music Festival this year. On May 17 the ensemble, conducted by Matthias Maute, with soprano Shannon Mercer, will perform 17th- and 18thcentury music of Spain and Latin America by composers such as Murcia, Falconieri, Ortiez, Fernandes, Zipoli and Aroujou.

Speaking on the phone from Toronto, Maute, who serves as co-artistic director for Ensemble Caprice with Sophie Larivière, talked about the ensemble and his own musical career and approach to music.

“I initially learned recorders, which are instruments that cover the entire span from Baroque to contemporary music and also reflect my approach as a conductor. Least of all do I want to be associated with this or that period or music style,” he says.

Maute describes his 15-member ensemble as “a wonderful group of musicians to go on tour with. We have a lot of colors of music to present, since our ensemble includes flutes and recorders, Baroque guitar, cello and various percussion instruments, which makes the performance so special.”

Ensemble Caprice has been collaborating with Mercer for several years now. “What I especially appreciate about Shannon is her incredible voice and her ability to manage a very wide repertoire, which includes Romantic, Baroque and contemporary music – in that way, being similar to my approach to music. She is blessed with a perfect sense of style. So, for example, when she sings Spanish music, she is able to give it that special flair it demands,” says Maute.

Speaking about the concert program, Maute says that “a Western music lover on the whole knows how European Baroque music of that period sounds, with names like Corelli or Schutz immediately coming to mind. But here we find something different. There obviously are elements of Baroque music but also clear influences of other cultures, which makes it unique and colorful. We always immensely enjoy playing it, and the audience seems to enjoy it as well, seeing it as a kind of a crossover. And indeed, here one can discern both Italian and Spanish music, but also that of those unfortunate black slaves who were brought from Africa to work in the silver mines of Latin America.”

Maute, for whom this will be his second visit to Israel (he participated in Felicja Blumental Festival three years ago), says he and his colleagues feel honored to be invited to the festival again and can’t wait for the moment they land in Tel Aviv.

Ensemble Caprice presents two programs in the same day. While the above-mentioned concert starts at 9 p.m., the other one at 5:30 p.m. will serve as a sort of introduction to the world of Baroque music in Europe and Latin America.

May 17 at Recanati Hall, Tel Aviv Museum of Art. For more about the festival programs: www.blumentalfestival.com. Reservations: (03) 607-7020

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