FOMAG presents Bolivian Baroque works at Organ Barn on May 29

FOMAG presents Bolivian Baroque works at Organ Barn on May 29

GUILFORD — Friends of Music at Guilford (FOMAG), now in its 50th anniversary season, has been presenting a series of programs with Baroque-era works from Bolivia that have been hidden away for centuries.

The third and final event in the series is on Sunday, May 29, at 3 p.m. in the intimate barn at Tree Frog Farm, where FOMAG now hosts concerts on both Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends.

Since presenting the new, the unusual, and the underperformed is a central mission of the organization, this project has been a fitting element of its half-century season, according to a news release.

Located off Packer Corners Rd. in idyllic rural Guilford, the barn is home to the organization's circa 1897 Tracker Organ. One of FOMAG's founders, the late A. Graham Down (1929-2014), purchased the instrument in Maine, moved it to the barn, invested in its restoration and improvements over the years, and performed the first concerts on it.

The May 29 program consists of trio sonatas, motets, and songs with both Latin and Spanish texts, all by anonymous 18th-century Bolivian composers. Featured performers include organist Ken Olsson, soprano Marietta Formanek, cellist Pedro Pereira, violinist Amy Cann, a few other Guilford Chamber players, and a quartet of Guilford Chamber Singers including the group's director Tom Baehr.

The program begins with remarks by the weekend's special guest, Father Piotr Nawrot, the Polish priest and musicologist who has made reclamation of Bolivian Baroque music his life's mission.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Nawrot tracked down and collected over 10,000 pages of original material, some in desperate condition, promising to protect it from further deterioration by placing it in climate-controlled storage. He then spent a couple of decades preparing a sampling of the archive for publication and performance by modern-day musicians.

To bring this music back to life, Nawrot not only put it in the hands of native Bolivians in schools throughout that country but also founded an International Festival of American Renaissance & Baroque Music. This spring's 11th biennial gathering hosted performances in two dozen venues with musicians from 10 European countries, Korea, the U.S., and several South American nations.

Friends of Music is pleased to be introducing some of this newly rediscovered music, as well as the man responsible for its resurrection, to this culturally rich corner of Vermont.

The May 29 concert is followed by an optional holiday cookout on the back deck and lawn. There will be grilling options for carnivores and vegetarians alike and assorted salads, sides, sips, and sundaes with classic toppings; attendees are welcome to bring their preferred picnic beverage.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates