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Claremont faculty bring classics to life

Jason D. Cox
Staff Writer

Sweet sounds bounced off towering, white walls as Concordia Clarimontis, the faculty period-instrument ensemble of Claremont Graduate University, began its opening piece Tuesday afternoon in Kresge Chapel.

The ensemble’s first piece, a sonata by Dietrich Buxtehude, was a great sample of what these musicians could do together.

Synthesizing the distinct sounds of each of their instruments, they were able to breathe life into a piece written over 300 years ago.

Robert Zappulla, the group’s director, performed on the positif organ and harpsichord, raising dove-like music to the listening ears of the audience.

“It was a fantastic performance,” said Lynda Marquez, secretary for CGU’s department of music. “And what a great way to end a Tuesday afternoon.”

During the hour that the ensemble performed, they played three pieces: Sonata No. 1 in B-flat major; Sonata G major for Violin and Basso Continuo by Antonio Vivaldi; and Sonata in C minor for Violin and Harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“The pieces we performed were all new to us as a group, we had never played them together before,” said Shanon Zusman, adjunct professor of early music at University of Southern California and player of the viola da gamba.

Every one of the pieces performed were at least 250 years old and, based on the way they were played, have aged with grace. The second piece was a piece called Lamento d’Arianna, or Arianna’s Lament.

This was performed by contralto vocalist and music professor, Carol Lisek.

This deeply moving piece tells the tragic tale of woe of Arianna, whose lover has abandoned her.

“It was really fun putting the piece together, which is very dark and emotional,” Lisek said.

Lamento d’Arianna is a scene from Claudio Monteverdi’s second opera, L’Arianna. The version performed by Lisek was the so-called seconda practica, or second practice, which denotes Monteverdi’s forsaking the traditional 17th century rules of harmony for the sake of Arianna’s impassioned laments.

The next piece was a sonata by Antonio Vivaldi, which evoked a kind of autumnal sense of change and renewal.

As the violin swung back and forth up and down its range of sound, the image of falling leaves in a forest at the beginning of fall came to mind.

Being somewhat more upbeat than the previous two pieces, this was a well-placed addition to the set.

In the second movement of the piece, the Giga, the music gained momentum and complexity.

And the final movement, the Corrente, was even more exuberant and densely packed with sound than the previous.

The final piece, a sonata by Johann Sebastian Bach, made wonderful use of the violin and harpsichord’s ability to work together in what starts as a potentially more somber-sounding movement.

The tone picks up in the second movement, gaining speed.

The third movement relaxes the speed and becomes slower and sadder, but still with a hopeful underlying tone.

The fourth, final movement of the piece was not as slow or sad as the one previous, but still has a solemn enthusiasm to it.

Claremont School of Theology has four musical performances scheduled for coming Tuesday afternoons until Dec. 7.

Jason D. Cox can be reached at

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