In November, Music of the Baroque performs music connected to Chicago. And yet, all of the music was written at least a quarter-century before Chicago was founded.
The links are tongue-in-cheek — or, as Dame Jane Glover would say, “impish” — playing off of Chicago’s Windy City moniker and connection to the water.
The longtime Music of the Baroque music director built the program around concertos that showcase two of the orchestra’s long-serving wind chairs, principal bassoon William Buchman and principal horn Oto Carrillo. And then, the program nods to Lake Michigan in the form of Handel’s Water Music Suite No. 3.
Ahead of the performances, WFMT spoke with Dame Jane Glover about the program’s Chicago connections and Music of the Baroque’s strong artistic bonds, which trace back to the ensemble’s late founder and conductor laureate, Thomas Wikman.
WFMT: How did this Chicago-oriented program come about?
Dame Jane Glover: We of course bring in top international soloists, but we also love to feature our own musicians because they are so fabulous. We have the best musicians in town!
This is an opportunity for Oto to do one of the four beloved Mozart horn concertos and for Bill to do the Hummel bassoon concerto, which is a real tour de force.
Around that, I thought, “Let’s make this a Windy City program.” So we needed a bit of Water Music.
And then I’m framing the program with two eighteenth century symphonies that have nothing to do with wind or cities. But they are both, in their own way, miraculous. One of them is by Joseph Bologne, a Black eighteenth century French composer. And then finishing with the Haydn Symphony No. 96, which is known as the “Miracle.”
We always love it when our own people stand up front, so we have a sort of party to finish with, which is what the Haydn is. This is a particularly fun symphony. It reflects the joy of the ensemble.
WFMT: This joy and continuity is one of Music of the Baroque’s great strengths. What effect do you think that has on your collaborative process?
Dame Jane Glover: I’ve been with this group now for over 20 years. It is glorious.
We’re a pretty close-knit group of musicians who know each other well. We’re a very collaborative group, we’re a very happy group. Soloists who come in really remark on what a great atmosphere there is among the group.
Most of our musicians come from either the Lyric or the CSO, which means that often, our rehearsals are the third session of the day. They’ll be squeezed in between a morning rehearsal and an evening performance. That just shows how dedicated they are. They do this because they love the music and the group.
WFMT: The ensemble’s founder, Thomas Wikman, helped model that love and dedication. This is one of the first performances the ensemble has had since his death in October. How will you remember him and his contributions to this ensemble and city?
Dame Jane Glover: I inherited the most wonderful ensemble from Tom. He did it for about 35 years, so at about 20 years, I am still a spring chicken compared to his tenure. It’s a constant privilege for me to keep it going.
I’m grateful to him absolutely every season. He set standards. He set parameters. What he achieved with the orchestra and the chorus is something that we’re so proud of. We know that we’re maintaining a tradition, and we are very privileged to do so.
I mourn his loss, and I am grateful to him every time I step on the podium.
Music of the Baroque performs Windy City on November 19 and 20 in Skokie and Chicago’s Loop, respectively. On demand viewing will be available on November 24.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.