Atlanta Baroque Orchestra Interview: Stephen Redfield


This is an excerpt from an interview with Stephen Redfield, professor of violin at the University of Southern Mississippi and long-time player with the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra. This interview was conducted shortly after Stephen’s involvement in the Victoria Bach Festival, and before the 2013 Oregon Bach Festival began.

Tell me a little bit about your experience at the Victoria Bach Festival.

That’s a festival which is not really limited to Bach, and that’s true of the Oregon Bach Festival too- it’s kind of centered on Bach and centered on Bach’s vocal music, but this Bach festival actually featured very little Bach at all. We played a brand new piece by a composer named Kyr who is influenced by Bach (as is every composer I’m sure), and he wrote some brand new music for us to perform and record, which we did. Then we played another fairly large work by Beethoven, the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, that was also strongly influenced by Bach and everyone who wrote a mass before Beethoven. Those were our two big pieces for the festival. In addition we played one concert of bona fide Baroque music with “low pitch” and Baroque instruments, and that was a concert which we called “Dutch Treat”- it’s a concert that featured Dutch music and in particular it was about the influence of Dutch music and Dutch composers on Bach.

What was your personal involvement in the Victoria Bach Festival?

As a violinist I am the concertmaster of the Victoria Bach Festival and I was also the designer and coordinator of the Dutch Treat program, so I chose the music, organized the rehearsals, ran the rehearsals, and was “leader” of the concert (there was no conductor).

So what made you decide to use the Dutch music specifically?

Well I have a really strong attraction to one dutch compser who wrote very little music, but he wrote 6 very beautiful concerti grossi, so I wanted to play Wassenaer’s A Major Concerto for strings and continuo. I built the program around that piece; I didn’t really have to manufacture anything so special, there’s a lot of beautiful music and a lot that went  right along with that piece, including a beautiful piece by a composer without a dutch name, with an Italian name, and that is the Locatelli concerto called “Il Pianto d’Arianna” (“The Lament of Ariana”), one that was actually programmed this year in Atlanta!

(Atlanta Baroque Orchestra performing “Il Pianto d’Arianna” on February 17, 2013 at Roswell Street Presbyterian Church in Roswell, Georgia.)

Well great!

And why should an Italian composer be featured on a Dutch program? Is because he worked in a Dutch court as did many foreigners (but particularly Italians) they were very, very popular and widely influential in that time, they worked all over western Europe (Italians did). This program started out with the Locatelli, and then it went on to some very beautiful organ music by Sweelinck (this composer was kind of a giant in the organ just before Bach’s time and was known to Bach) and went on to some vocal music by Huygens, some music by another very influential organist from Holland named Reincken, (and that composer was someone that Bach traveled to go hear and to learn from, so as a younger man Bach went to go hear Reincken and to hear his compositions and to hear him play the organ and he learned from Reincken, I believe he may have played for Reincken). We also chose one piece (of the pieces we performed in Victoria) by Reincken that Bach transcribed for solo keyboard (harpsichord).  That will give you an idea of how much he respected Reincken’s work, that he would take the time to transcribe it. So we included that Bach transcription in the concert, and then we finished with this Wassenaer piece.

That sounds like an excellent concert program.

It was a lot of fun.


Stephen Redfield attended the Oregon Bach Festival from June 24th until July 14, 2013.

To hear more Dutch music from the Baroque era, please join us September 7 or 8 for our concert “Irregular Pearls: Music from the Time of Vermeer,” at the Roswell Presbyterian Church and the High Museum of Art, respectively.