Concert recalls court of Fred the Great

The Salish Sea Early Music Festival’s event is at 7 p.m. April 27 in Freeland.

The Salish Sea Early Music Festival is offering Whidbey residents the unique opportunity to hear music dating back to the 18th century.

The second event of the festival’s 2022 season focuses on music played in the court of Frederick the Great, who reigned as King of Prussia from 1740 until 1772. A flutist himself, the king was known to invite other musicians to his court to play alongside him, including harpsichordist Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the son of renowned composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Four concerti and a harpsichord solo are part of the Salish Sea Early Music Festival’s event, happening at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27 at St. Augustine’ in-the-Woods Episcopal Church in Freeland.

Six musicians will play chamber music on period instruments. Anacortes resident Jeffrey Cohan plays the baroque flute in the performance, the role of the king. Cohan’s flute may be an exact copy of the very flute that the Prussian king played, which is depicted in the painting “Frederick the Great Playing the Flute at Sanssouci” by Adolph Menzel.

“We’ll be more or less recreating a concert that you might have heard at the court of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia,” Cohan said.

The music being played at the Freeland event also includes a concerto that Cohan believes has never before been digitized. He has been studying Frederick the Great for years and discovered the concerto at the Library of Congress.

“We do a lot of research and unearthing of music that hasn’t been performed for centuries,” Cohan said.

The baroque instruments sound different compared to today’s instruments, which Cohan described as being “louder and brighter.” The baroque violin’s neck has less tension, for example, and the baroque flute has a lower, sonorous pitch and an extra key hole.

Most of the musicians involved in the upcoming event are either from Whidbey Island or the Seattle area, but harpsichordist David Schrader hails from Chicago. In addition to the concerti, Schrader will play a harpsichord solo.

The orchestra also includes Elizabeth Phelps and Courtney Kuroda on baroque violin, Lindsey Strand-Polyak on baroque viola and Annabeth Shirley on baroque cello.

Masks and vaccination are required for the concert. Admission is a suggested donation ranging from $15 to $25.

Later in the season, the Salish Sea Early Music Festival will present a baroque quartet on May 11 and a Bach triple concerto on May 25.

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