News Blog

La Grande Bande Presents “Splendors of Baroque Italy” in Gaylord, St Paul February 9 & 10

La Grande Bande performing selections from its concert, “Splendors of Baroque Italy,” at First Presbyterian Church, Davenport, Iowa in March 2022.

GAYLORD, MN, JANUARY 29, 2023 — On Thursday, February 9, Gaylord-based music group La Grande Bande will present its concert at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gaylord.

The program, entitled “Splendors of Baroque Italy,” includes vocal music composed by Italian composer Giulio Caccini and his two daughters Francesca and Settimia. Performing on the concert will be Alyssa Anderson, mezzo-soprano, Maryne Mossey, viola da gamba & baroque cello, and Michael Thomas Asmus, harpsichord.

The concert is inspired by Giulio Caccini’s revolutionary 1602 publication Le nuove musiche (“The New Music”), and by the important contributions to music history made by the Caccini family. More information about the family’s history will be shared during the pre-concert talk (see below).

“A lot of the music on this particular program is incredibly difficult for the singer,” noted Michael Thomas Asmus, music & artistic director of La Grande Bande. “The difficulty is not so much in the notes that are being sung but the technique and complete and utter confidence and control that’s needed. On top of all of that, there’s the excruciatingly tragic poetry, the resoundingly tuneful melodies, and exquisite bravura—everything you should expect from early Italian Baroque music”

There are also several solo instrumental pieces for baroque cello by Domenico Gabrielli and a solo harpsichord selection by Giovanni Salvatore.

La Grande Bande’s performance will take place on Thursday, February 9 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gaylord (312 Fifth Street). The concert performance begins at 7:30 with a pre-concert talk beginning around 6:45. A small reception with light refreshments will immediately follow the performance.

For those who would like to hear a preview, a free open rehearsal will be held on Wednesday, February 8 beginning at 4:30pm.

Tickets ($5-15) are available online or at the door. Advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged. For more information visit www.lagrandebande.org/tickets or call 507-237-6539.

La Grande Bande presents “A French Baroque Christmas” program in New Ulm, St Paul December 9 & 10

La Grande Bande after its concert “Music From New Spain” performed at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm (Feb 2022

GAYLORD, MN, NOVEMBER 11, 2022 — On December 9 & 10, Gaylord-based music group La Grande Bande will present its first ever holiday concert. The program, entitled “A French Baroque Christmas,” will feature several choral works and three familiar French carols the audience can join in singing.

“I’m delighted to share this unique holiday program with everyone,” said Michael Thomas Asmus, Music & Artistic Director of La Grande Bande. “This concert will be our first try at a holiday-themed concert—this one is obviously Christmas-themed—during a busy holiday season.”

The concert was inspired by various Christmas traditions that Asmus has experienced over the past decades. “This particular concert is a mash-up of several Christmas traditions that I’ve been a part of. The first is the classic carol-sing/hymn-sing which many churches do before the Christmas Eve service. The second is inspired from my time at Gustavus, where we always did a Christmas program each year. The third is from a Christmas program I heard while I was in New York in 2018.”

“A French Baroque Christmas,” as the title of the concert suggests, will feature a great many selections written in France around the 1660s. There are selections for choir and selections for instruments alone, including violins, recorders, and a small chamber organ. Much of the music was written by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, a prolific composer working and living in Paris at that time.

When asked why French music, Asmus replied, “French music—especially French Baroque music—always just feels so perfect for Christmas. There are so many great carols, like ‘Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella’ and ‘Angels we have heard on high’ that originated in France. It’s music that always has seemed so festive to me, especially around Christmastime.”

While the choir will be singing mostly in French and Latin, there will be projected translations for the concert. “We always do things in the original languages,” Asmus noted. “I know how frustrating it can be to not understand what’s being sung, and we want to make sure everyone understands what’s beings said. We’ve used the projected English translations for the past few years and it works really well.”

Asmus assured us that the carol-sing will be in English. “Oh yes, of course! The choir will be singing in French, then the assembly will be invited to sing with them in English. There’s music in the program books and we’ll project the words for the carols as well.”

La Grande Bande’s performance will take place on December 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm (605 North State Street) and December 10 at St Paul-Reformation Lutheran (100 Oxford St N, St Paul). Both concerts begin at 7:30 with a pre-concert talk beginning around 6:30.

Tickets are available online or at the door. Advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged. For more information visit www.lagrandebande.org/tickets or call 507-237-6539.

A French Baroque Christmas (December 2022). Experience the beauty of the season with a selection of works written for Christmas by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.  The concert centers on Charpentier’s Pastorale sur la Naissance (“Pastoral on the birth of Christ”), one of the most captivating and imaginative examples of sacred French-language Baroque drama. From shepherds and recorders to famous French noëls you can join us in singing, you’ll surely be transfixed by everything this concert has to o