March, 2017 -- The North Carolina Baroque Orchestra is a period instrument ensemble specializing in 17th- and 18th- century Baroque performance practice. Based in Davidson, NC, it was founded in the summer of 2011 by sisters Frances Blaker and Barbara Blaker Krumdieck. Ms. Blaker, a virtuoso recorder player and internationally acclaimed teacher residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, is Artistic Director.
The NCBO instruments stay as historically true to Baroque period as possible to create a more accurate listening experience. Concert pitch is normally A=415 Hz, or about a half-step lower than the pitch in which we perform music of more modern eras. The stringed instruments use gut strings as opposed to modern-day synthetic materials. The winds are made of wood and have few or no keys. The end result is a rich, mellow, and intimate tone color well suited to the smaller spaces in which this music would traditionally have been heard, not the large concert halls in which we customarily listen to music today.
North Carolina Baroque Orchestra dedicated to a true Baroque experience
The North Carolina Baroque Orchestra
A Member of Firebird Arts Alliance
One interesting Baroque instrument unfamiliar to most modern audiences is the theorbo, basically a lute with added extra bass strings. The long bass strings do not have frets and are played as open strings, tuned to the scale in the key being played. The rest of the strings are fretted and played like a guitar or lute. Pictured at right is Billy Simms, the theorbo player in this ensemble, one of several performers dedicated to demonstrating their rare instruments and the unique experience they provide.
NCBO performs larger works from the Baroque era with choirs throughout the Southeast and has collaborated several times with Firebird Arts Alliance to create imaginative and one-of-a-kind musical opportunities. Says Barbara Blaker Krumdieck, “This project [Firebird Arts Alliance's semi-staged St. John Passion April 1] is particularly exciting to NCBO because although the orchestra has performed Bach's amazing St. John Passion with other directors and choirs in the past, this will be our first time participating in a semi-staged production. Sound and sight come together to provide a unique and full experience for the audience and performers alike.”