March 6, 2022   7:00 PM

Benaroya Hall


Women of the Baroque

Rachell Ellen Wong

Extraordinary composers Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Isabella Leonarda, and Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, are featured in some of the best vocal and instrumental chamber music of the Baroque era.

Kennedy’s graceful tonal clarity was a wonder to hear.

The San Francisco Chronicle


Michele Kennedy


Ingrid Matthews


Lindsey Strand-Polyak


Elisabeth Reed


Byron Schenkman



Isabella Leonarda:

Trio-Sonata Trio-sonata in D Major, op. 16, no. 4

Francesca Caccini

Aria Ardo Infelice for soprano and continuo

Francesca Caccini

Aria sopra la Romanesca for violin and continuo

Barbara Strozzi:

Aria Costume de grandi, op. 2, no. 4, for soprano, two violins and continuo

Barbara Strozzi:

Aria La Vendetta, op. 2, no. 9, for soprano, two violins, and continuo

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre:

Chaconne from “L’isle de Delos” for soprano, violin, and continuo

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre:

Trio-Sonata Trio-sonata in G Minor

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre:

Chaconne in D (1707) for harpsichord

Isabella Leonarda:

Motet  Cara Regina, op. 20, no. 2 for soprano, two violins, and continuo

“Flamboyance and tender eloquence…”

— San Francisco
Chronicle, Datebook


Program Notes

Women composers have been publishing music in Europe since the middle of the 16th century and it is possible to find interesting and beautiful music by women from every generation since then. This program features music by four exceptional composers from the Baroque Era, the period of European music history from the early 17th to the early 18th centuries. Three categories of women had the freedom to compose and publish music in this period: members of the aristocracy, nuns, and professional musicians from musical families. The four composers represented in our concert include examples from all three categories.

Isabella Leonarda was one of the most prolific of the many Italian nuns who published music in the 17th century. She was the only one to produce a collection of purely instrumental chamber music, in addition to hundreds of sacred vocal works. She lived a long life and didn’t begin publishing music until she was in her fifties.

Francesca Caccini was born in Florence, daughter of one of the most influential composers of the early 17th century. Her father’s treatise on “the new music” defined the highly expressive language of early Baroque opera and the chamber music which it inspired. Francesca grew up to be the highest paid musician at the Florentine court, was recruited for a position at the French court (which she did not take), and composed the first opera performed outside of Italy, her Liberation of Ruggiero from the Island of Alcina, which premiered in Florence in 1625 and was performed again in Warsaw in 1628.

Barbara Strozzi is an example of the aristocratic composer. In 1637 her father established a concert series in their Venetian home. This was her main venue as a performer. Meanwhile she published eight volumes of music, including more secular vocal music than any other contemporary composer of any gender. Some of her best known works are extended laments; however we have decided to feature two of her most delightfully lighthearted pieces. In these the two violins act more or less as backup singers to the solo diva.

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was the most distinguished member of a family of professional musicians. She was brought to the French court of Louis XIV as a child prodigy and grew up to become one of the most prolific composers of the time and a favorite of the king. Her published works include harpsichord suites, violin sonatas, cantatas, and an opera. The trio-sonata we are performing is an unpublished work likely influenced by the trio-sonatas of Isabella Leonarda whose music she undoubtedly knew.

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