Harpsichord: Brilliantly Strung

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Harpsichord: Brilliantly Strung

This predecessor of the piano is probably the best known early Western musical instrument known to modern audiences. Join national treasure David Schrader to learn more about the harpsichord!

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Recorders Are For Grown Ups

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Recorders Are For Grown Ups

It’s true. Most people associate recorders with screeching, neon-colored plastic instruments. But listen to Laura Osterlund play, and you'll wish you'd paid more attention in elementary music class!

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Baroque Oboe: The Leading Reed

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Baroque Oboe: The Leading Reed

What do you get when you employ two creative Frenchmen as the resident artists of your 17th century court? With some luck, you'll get the Baroque oboe. Explore the "leading reed" with Sung Lee!

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Traverso: “The Love Glue”

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Traverso: “The Love Glue”

Love glue: two words you never thought you'd see together in classical music. But, there they are. Find out what that actually means, and meet our traverso player, Leighann Daihl Ragusa!

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The Viol: Bowed and Fretted

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The Viol: Bowed and Fretted

It kind of looks like a cello... only it's not! It's called a viola da gamba, which means "leg-viol." Come explore this beautiful and versatile instrument with BBE artist and Chicago favorite, Anna Steinhoff.

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The Versatile Violin

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The Versatile Violin

Once upon a time (c.1500) in a land far, far away (Italy), a maiden named Isabella d’Este made the purchase of a lifetime in c. 1500. You probably guessed it: the violin. Explore that purchase, and how the violin has evolved since the 16th century, with BBE Artistic Director, Brandi Berry.

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Sackbut: A Genius Design

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Sackbut: A Genius Design

The early trombone (also called a sackbut) has remained relatively unchanged since it was invented in the 15th century. That’s a pretty stellar run, but as the saying goes, “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.” Join us as we explore this *genius* instrument with Paul Von Hoff. 

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What the heck is a cornetto?

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What the heck is a cornetto?

Some of the instruments we're using for our Chicago Stories project don't have a modern counterpart. Bill Baxtresser, member of Gaudete Brass and Rook, plays a really unique instrument that has no sound or physical shape remotely close to anything we have today. It's called a cornetto, and no, it's not a brand of ice cream.

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A New Approach to New Music

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A New Approach to New Music

Did you ever stop and think that Bach and Beethoven, in their times, were creating new music? Not a soul had ever heard Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos or the Mass in B Minor, or Beethoven’s nine symphonies, before their premieres. B&B were at the cutting edge, and that's where we aim to go, too. Join us as we start our journey through a new project: Chicago Stories.

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A Gaelic Summer w/Kiyoe

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A Gaelic Summer w/Kiyoe

California native Kiyoe Matsuura (kee-yo-eh) is a dual-wielding Baroque and modern violin player that likes R&B and rap. She'll be playing up a storm at A Gaelic Summer, and answering the age old question: what do you do with a drunken sailor?

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A Gaelic Summer w/Thomas

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A Gaelic Summer w/Thomas

Thomas Aláan (pronounced uh-LAY-uhn) is a displaced West Virginian who sings like a girl - and that's awesome. He'll be leading all the drinking songs at A Gaelic Summer. The question everyone's dying to know, though: can he hold his liquor?

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A Gaelic Summer w/Holly

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A Gaelic Summer w/Holly

The BBE teams up with Holly Nastenko, the creative crocheting mind behind DaisyJoyStore, to create the BBE's next animal mascot friend, BBEaver. Find out about Holly and her work here!

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New Music: Orbits

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New Music: Orbits

As part of its collaboration (Humanities in Spaaaace!) with the DePaul University Humanities Center, the BBE is pleased to perform two new commissioned pieces, based on the theme "Orbits."

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Review: "Grace, Joy, Sincerity"

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Review: "Grace, Joy, Sincerity"

The opera dates back to 1725. In North America, historical evidence tells us, a Philadelphia audience attended a performance of the piece in 1798. That was it until two months ago, when, on consecutive days, two audiences in Chicago had the privilege. And last Saturday evening, that opportunity was extended to Bloomington: to experience in concert what may be the first opera ever written in Scotland, “The Gentle Shepherd.”

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BBE Artist Profile: Tom McElroy

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BBE Artist Profile: Tom McElroy

Tom McElroy is a Chicago-based actor and plays Sir William Worthy in the BBE production of The Gentle Shepherd. Find out more about Tom's work through IMDb and at tommcelroy.net. (All images taken from Tom's IMDb profile.)

Who is Tom McElroy?

Christian, husband, father, grandfather, actor. Born and raised in the far north suburbs, Have worked  flippin' burgers, fryin' chicken, construction, youth ministry, driving a delivery truck, sales, store manager, sales trainer, substitute teaching, Starbucks and for the past 23 years theatre, film, and television. Avid reader, love a good conversation with anyone, friend, enemy, new or old. Being part of telling a great story whether it's in theatre, film, television, or just sitting around with friends and family is something I am so incredibly grateful to have enjoyed doing, so many times and in so many places."God has made me an actor, when I perform I feel His pleasure." (with apologies to Eric Liddlell)

How did you get into acting?

I've been performing all my life. Skits for the parents and relatives, magic for banquets and parties, a little ventriloquism too. Moved on to plays in highschool and community theatre. Then in 1993 I decided to give it a try professionally and just never looked back.

What is the best play you've ever seen?

Hands down my favorite is the first show I ever saw in Chicago. It was at the Body Politic and starred my good friend Roger Mueller as Chris in All My Sons by Arthur Miller.

Tell us about a funny or embarrassing moment from a production.

Most recently (there have been many) I was in "A Life of Galileo" performing in a lecture hall at Northwestern university. At a very tense moment in the show, just after Galileo has recanted as I (playing Galileo) was crossing to my exit the door (which was to be my exit) suddenly opened and a man (possibly a professor?) burst in to the room looked around (at the theatrical lighting, actors on stage, and a huge audience) and fairly shouted, "Is there something going on in here?!" One of the other actors immediately replied, "Yes! We are doing a Brecht play!" The man paused and said, "oh." turned and walked out. Did I mention there was a sign on the door he came in advising that there was a play in progress? Hmmm....

How's your Scottish accent?

It's Scottish.

What do you like about The Gentle Shepherd production?

I'm loving the music, my fellow actors, and especially the "seer" scene where I tell Patrick's fortune.

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Julian Grace Foundation Supports Gentle Shepherd

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Julian Grace Foundation Supports Gentle Shepherd

The BBE is overjoyed to announce that it has received a grant from the Julian Grace Foundation, which will support its production of Scotland's first folk opera, The Gentle Shepherd! Thanks in part to JGF's support of this project, Chicago will experience a one of a kind show not seen in North America since 1792. Come enjoy the show, featuring the folk and fiddle music of Scotland and a cast of 15 actors, singers, and instrumentalists!

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