The Mystery Sonatas
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Rosary Sonatas
Part III: The Glorious Mysteries
A soulful journey into the heart of the Baroque
Tekla Cunningham, baroque violin
Tess Roberts, viola da gamba
Henry Lebedinsky, organ and harpsichord
(We regret to announce that due to unforeseen circumstances, Elisabeth Reed is not able to travel to Seattle to perform in this concert.
In her place, we welcome emerging viola da gamba player Tess Roberts.)
The Mystery Sonatas, also known as the Rosary Sonatas, are three sets of 5 sonatas for violin and continuo (plus a concluding Passacaglia for solo violin)
that were completed around 1676 by Biber, the leading violin virtuoso of the 17th century. Dedicated to the Archbishop Gandolph in Salzburg, these
sonatas are as compelling, affecting and moving as they were when they were written almost 350 years ago. Scored for a single violin supported by continuo,
Biber employs a different tuning for each sonata. Only the first sonata (the Annunciation) and the final Passacaglia share the standard G-D-A-E tuning.
This technique of mistuning the violin, called scordatura, gives a tremendous range of affects and emotions to this music. Retuning brings the violin into
different key areas and creates a kaleidoscope of overtones and sonic effects, helping Biber to create specific feelings or affects in the listener.
The Glorious Mysteries, the final set of sonatas in the Mysteries Sonatas cycle, begins with the Resurrection and the events of Easter:
The Assumption of the Virgin
The Beatification of the Virgin
violinist Tekla Cunningham delights in bringing music of the baroque, classical and romantic eras to life with vivid
and expressive historically informed performances. Her new recording Stylus Phantasticus with Pacific MusicWorks is earning
critical praise for its "tender expressivity", "dramatic flair and dark wit", "songlike expressivity" and "Terpsichorean flair."
In an album lauded for "vocal plushness" and "vibrant lyricism," Tekla is described as "a marvel on her Italian instrument, an
endlessly songful bird." Early Music America describes the recording as "played with verve, the music presented here reaffirms
the old notion that instrumental music can have the flair of any theatrical spectacle... a stellar vessel for the boldest showmanship."
Her concert performances have been described as "ravishingly beautiful" and "stellar". "Enough can't be said for Tekla Cunningham,
who conducts with head, eyes, and even eyebrows as she plays. She is a consummate musician whose flowing solos and musical
gestures are a joy to watch."
She is co-artistic director and concertmaster of Pacific MusicWorks (with Stephen Stubbs and Henry Lebedinsky), and
artist-in-residence at the University of Washington where her students are a source of inspiration and joy. She founded
and directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, now entering its seventeenth season, producing and presenting vibrant
period-instrument performances of music from Monteverdi to Beethoven and beyond. She plays regularly as concertmaster,
principal player and soloist with the American Bach Soloists in California. Her greatest musical love is music of the
baroque and chamber music of all stripes, though she can’t seem to quit Johannes Brahms.
Emerging viola da gamba player Tess Roberts has been exploring the world of early music through the viol since age 11.
Past and recent performances include appearances with the Medieval Women's Choir, University of Washington Baroque Ensemble,
UC Davis chamber and University choirs, and community outreach performances with Seattle Historical Arts for Kids since
2015. Tess has also enjoyed teaching opportunities at UC Davis and the University of Washington and has recently opened a
private viola da gamba studio in Seattle. She also hopes to broaden her teaching to early childhood music education with a
global music focus, by studying Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington as she prepares for graduate studies in Gamba
performance in Europe. She leads casual play-in and coaching sessions of historical music and performance practices for the
local viol community.
by The Miami Herald for his "superb continuo... brilliantly improvised and ornamented," GRAMMY-nominated historical keyboardist,
composer, and conductor Henry Lebedinsky has performed with the
Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Seraphic Fire, Sonoma Bach, and the
Cantata Collective, among others. Recent conducting engagements include the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and Sonoma Bach's Live Oak
Baroque Orchestra, and he serves as co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Bay Area's AGAVE. With countertenor Reginald L. Mobley,
he has spent the past dozen years introducing listeners near and far to music by Black composers from the past two and a half centuries,
including recent appearances at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and Festival Printemps Musical des Alizés in Morocco. In 2014,
he founded Seattle's Early Music Underground, which brought Baroque music to brewpubs, wineries, and other places where people gather,
and presenting it in multimedia contexts which both entertain and educate. In the middle of the pandemic, he launched his newest venture,
Classical Uncorked, an artist-driven music cooperative that blends music,
wine, spirits, and good company while seeking to center both performers and repertoire from historically excluded populations.