Chamber Music Concerts presents a concert of Christmas music with the Aulos Ensemble and soprano Julianne Baird. Photo courtesy of Chamber Music Concerts

Masters of high baroque

Chamber Music Concerts presents the Aulos Ensemble with soprano Julianne Baird performing its Christmas concert, "In Dulci Jubilo," at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

The program features traditional carols such as "Es ist ein Ros Ensprungen," "Greensleeves," and "When Christ was born on Earth." Also on the program are works by Nikolaus Bruhns, Johann Sebastian Bach, Michel Corrette, and Jean-Phillipe Rameau.

The New York Times wrote, "The Aulos Ensemble with Julianne Baird "¦ If it has to be just one Christmas concert, this is it!"

In addition to the concert, the group will present two free educational programs. At 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, the Aulos Ensemble will coach the Jefferson Baroque Orchestra, an early music group based here in the Rogue Valley, focusing on Baroque performance style; that afternoon at 1 p.m. Baird will present a voice master class for Southern Oregon University voice students. Both programs are free and open to the public, and will take place at the SOU Music Recital Hall.

The Aulos Ensemble was formed in 1973 by five Juilliard School graduates. In 1978 with the release of their recording, "Masterpieces of the High Baroque," the group's reputation for exhilarating performances informed with scholarly insight was firmly established.

In those early years the group's programming featured a blend of flute, oboe, violin, cello, and harpsichord, later adding a viola da gamba. Invitations to perform came from virtually all of this country's major chamber music presenters.

The 1980s also saw the beginnings of what has become a tradition for New York concertgoers — the Aulos' "Christmas Concerts" in front of the Neapolitan Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A recording of one such program, "A Baroque Christmas" and featuring soprano Baird, was recorded for MHS/Musicmasters.

Most recently, the ensemble's instrumental Christmas program, "Joyeux Noel" was heard on NPR's "Performance Today."

In the fall 2006, the ensemble and Baird released "In Dulci Jubilo," a CD featuring much of the new material uncovered in the many years of Christmas concerts.

Soprano Baird maintains a busy concert schedule of solo recitals and performances of baroque opera and oratorio.

Tickets are $26/$30, and $5 for youth 22 and younger. See ChamberMusicConcerts.org or call 552-6154.

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