Programming Italian Baroque Music

Welcome to this, my first blog post. Here I will talk about one of my favorite activities in life, programming early Italian Baroque music.

Garrick Comeaux, Artistic Director

Garrick Comeaux, Artistic Director

I have three productions this coming season with my Consortium Carissimi, based in the Twin Cities. I usually transcribe the music for these concerts from manuscript or early prints, unless I find the music already transcribed and published in modern-day notation. I usually construct programs of music of at least two different composers, but our first project is only music of Salomone Rossi – ca. 1570 – 1630 (the second project is also monographic: music of Bonifazio Graziani – more on that in a future post). I first came across Salomone Rossi years ago when my good friend and bass singer colleague, Marcello Vargetto, asked if I could fill in for him and sing a series of concerts in Israel of Rossi’s First Book of Madrigals. I gladly accepted.

One of my favorite composers from our Consortium repertory is the Neapolitan Luigi Rossi. This, for example, is not the same Mr. Rossi. Salomone (or Salamone) Rossi came from Mantova (or Mantua) in northern Italy, between Modena and Verona. Rossi was an Italian Jewish violinist and composer and lived between the late Italian Renaissance period and early Baroque. He was one of the very few Jewish professional musicians of this early Italian baroque period that was able to pursue a career as a composer. Many restrictions were imposed in Europe upon the Jewish communities and were often forced to live in ghettos. Rossi’s good connections with the Gonzaga Court in Mantova allowed him to move outside the ghetto without wearing a yellow star. He worked as a singer and violinist with Claudio Monteverdi, who worked from 1590 to 1612 in the same city. It was here in Mantova that Monteverdi wrote his Vespers of 1610 (this too will be in a future post about our next season!). No record exists that the Vespers were ever performed there, since it was an audition piece for other jobs posted in Rome and Venice.

We have an exceptional ensemble here in the Twin Cities that will perform Rossi’s music on Consortium Carissimi’s first program of the season. The singers are Marita Link, Heather Cogswell, Clara Osowski, Bill Pederson, Roy Heilman, Steve Staruch, Douglas Shambo, Mike Schmidt and myself. I am looking forward to working with violinists Jin Kim and Margaret Humphrey. One of our new ensemble tenors is Mike Pettman, but he discovered that the lute is great fun, so he and Phil Rukavina will accompany us along with Bruce Jacobs, harpsichord and Henry Lebedinsky, organ. Henry is very knowledgeable about Salomone Rossi, so I asked him to choose the music for this program. I think he did an excellent job in selecting music sung a cappella in Hebrew, sung in Italian and accompanied by instruments, as well as instrumental music with the violins. We hope you’ll join us for this program for a chance to enjoy this rare and beautiful music. Visit for more information.

Tante cose buone e arriverderci presto!

Lots of good things and we will see you soon!


Garrick Comeaux
Artistic Director

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