Tonight: Advanced Mandolin Classical Group @ 7pm

If you're a current student in good standing you are welcome to attend the Advanced Mandolin Classical Group which meets Wednesday nights at 7pm.

This is the core of Mandolin New England, a 501(c)3 nonprofit mandolin orchestra that performs free concerts and master classes in western Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Boston area.

Currently the group  is working on the Bach Double Concerto originally written for two viols and continuo.  We are playing it with 2 mandolins and continuo.  Continuo generally refers to string instruments that play the rhythm and echo parts of the melody, but are not part of the solo.  In a chamber group, it would be comprised of violins, violas, cellos, bass and harpsichord; or perhaps Viols*  and harpsichord, depending on the composer.  For example, J.S. Bach composed a fair number of pieces for viols*

J. S. Bach "Lost Portrait"

The Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043, also known as the Double Violin Concerto (Doppelkonzert für zwei Violinen), is one of the most famous works by Johann Sebastian Bach and considered among the best examples of the work of the late Baroque period.  Bach may have written the concerto between 1717 and 1723 when he was the Kapellmeister at the court of Anhalt-Köthen, Germany, though the work's surviving performance materials were created for the concert series that Bach ran as the Director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig and are dated c. 1730–31.  The concerto is characterized by a subtle yet expressive relationship between the violins throughout the work. In addition to the two soloists, the concerto is scored for strings and basso continuo. The musical structure of this piece uses fugal imitation and much counterpoint.  Here is a link to the score.

The concerto comprises three movements:

  1. Vivace
  2. Largo ma non tanto
  3. Allegro

The group is also working on a string quartet of Mozart's commonly referred to as The Hunt.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, K. 458, nicknamed "The Hunt", is the fourth of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn. It was completed in 1784.  Here is a link to the score

 It is in four movements:
  1. Allegro vivace assai
  2. Menuetto and Trio. Moderato
  3. Adagio, in E-flat major
  4. Allegro assai
Neither Mozart nor Artaria called this piece "The Hunt." "For Mozart's contemporaries, the first movement of K.458 evidently evoked the 'chasse' topic, the main components of which were a 6/8 time signature (sometimes featuring a strong upbeat) and triadic melodies based largely around tonic and dominant chords (doubtless stemming from the physical limitations of the actual hunting horns to notes of the harmonic series)." According to Irving, Mozart's first intention was to conclude with a polonaise and sketched 65 bars.

Its popularity is reflected in its use in various films, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mystery Date, The Royal Tenenbaums and Star Trek: Insurrection.

The Advanced Mandolin Classical Group has performed this piece once before during a concert at the Porter Phelps-Huntington Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts on September 17th, 2018.  Ah those pre-Coronavirus days when we all took for granted that playing together in an intimate group setting was commonplace and would never leave us.  Those were the days!

The group will be meeting at 7pm online in a Meet.Google.Com session.  If you are a current student and would like to attend, let Adam know through Slack and you will be invited to the closed Slack channel.  You must be a regular weekly student to attend this group.

Viol da Gamba (viol of the leg)
* The viol (/ˈvaɪəl/), viola da gamba[a] (Italian: [ˈvjɔːla da ˈɡamba]), or informally gamba, is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments with hollow wooden bodies and pegboxes where the tension on the strings can be increased or decreased to adjust the pitch of each of the strings. Frets on the viol are usually made of gut, tied on the fingerboard around the instrument's neck, to enable the performer to stop the strings more cleanly. Frets improve consistency of intonation and lend the stopped notes a tone that better matches the open strings. Viols first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and were most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque (1600–1750) periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle, but later, more direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th- and 16th-century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute (and also like a present-day viol)[4][5] that looked like but was quite distinct from (at that time) the 4-course guitar (an earlier chordophone).

Although bass viols superficially resemble cellos, viols are different in numerous respects from instruments of the violin family: the viol family has flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and five to seven rather than four strings; some of the many additional differences are tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—similar to a lute—rather than in fifths), the presence of frets, and underhand ("German") rather than overhand ("French") bow grip.

All members of the viol family are played upright (unlike the violin or the viola, which is held under the chin). All viol instruments are held between the legs like a modern cello, hence the Italian name viola da gamba (it. "viol for the leg") was sometimes applied to the instruments of this family. This distinguishes the viol from the modern violin family, the viola da braccio (it. "viol for the arm"). A player of the viol is commonly known as a gambist, violist /ˈvaɪəlɪst/, or violist da gamba. "Violist" shares the spelling, but not the pronunciation, of the word commonly used since the mid-20th century to refer to a player of the viola. It can therefore cause confusion if used in print where context does not clearly indicate that a viol player is meant, though it is entirely unproblematic, and common, in speech.

Viols come in seven sizes: "pardessus de viole" (which is relatively rare, exclusively French and did not exist before the 18th century), treble (in French dessus), alto, tenor (in French taille), bass, and two sizes of contrabass (also known as a violone), the smaller one tuned an octave below the tenor (violone in G, sometimes called great bass or in French grande basse) and the larger one tuned an octave below the bass (violone in D).