For the third and final concert of Kansas City Baroque Consortium’s summer series, “Between Silence and Light,” the ensemble melded baroque dance music with 21st century choreography, enjoyed by the at-capacity audience in the Parish Hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Friday.
The group, founded by artistic director Trilla Ray-Carter, collaborated with the Owen/Cox Dance Group for this concert, presenting the third commissioned work by Ian David Coleman, “Wild Dance of Flame.”
For this concert, the ensemble expanded to a chamber orchestra of period instruments and performed sans conductor in traditional baroque practice, led by concertmaster William Bauer.
The selections from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera “Les Indes galantes” were inspired by the traditional dances of Native Americans (not traditional baroque forms, of course), though here the pieces were presented instrumentally. After the lively, downbeat heavy “Danses de les Sauvages,” “Tendre Amour” was more hesitant, gathering warmth as voices were added. Harpsichord interjections were a delicious surprise during the rollicking “Deux Tambourins.”
The ensemble reduced to six for George Frideric Handel’s “Passacaille,” joined by a trio of dancers: Chrisanne Ayers, Ivan Braatz, and Cameron Thomas. Jennifer Owen choreographed the work with a playful attitude, the dancers posing and prancing, though the full movements and twisting interplay did not suit the available space and appeared cramped on the stage.
Harpsichordist Charles Metz performed Handel’s Suite in E Major, “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” the intimacy of the solo performance allowing refreshing clarity to enjoy the jangling, glittery timbre of the instrument and his lickety-split delivery.
Coleman used a motif from the series’ second piece to form the basis for “Wild Dance of Flame.” A semi-hocket effect, with layers of plummy pizzicato, transformed into a jig-like melody and generated a rich, warm timbre from the trio (Bauer and Monty Carter, violins, and Ray-Carter, cello).
Owen drew gestures and phrasing from the choreography earlier in the evening, weaving individual moments into group statements, following the interlacing lines of the music. As the music slid and slowed and softened, the dancers responded by kneeling together in shadow (a fine subtlety from lighting designer Ashley Kok). A slight twitch in the shoulder and the fragment of jig music returned, hurtling the dancers back to their turns.
The full orchestra returned for Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Suite from “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” an excellent display of baroque style and forms, especially the sweet, gilded tones from Mark Cohick on recorder.
The concert’s final work featured the dancers once again, this time to Michael Praetorius’ “Terpsichore.” Owen allowed more individual statements, letting the dancers fully command the stage with gleeful abandon. The performance was more expansive and fit the high energy music well, the men leaping and spinning with ready exuberance, Ayers offering a smoother, balletic solo before joining their fray, pushed by the thudding drum and tingling tambourine.
The experience was so exciting the audience gave the performers a standing ovation before the final movement, swept away by the inherent joy of baroque music and enthusiasm of the dancers.
Kansas City Baroque Consortium’s inaugural summer series has proven the far-reaching concept resilient and flexible, this idea of combining baroque music with other art forms to examine the moment of inspiration in art-making, culminating in an enjoyable, though-provoking presentation.