Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's that time of year again!

After a quick family visit in the frozen tundra of central Illinois, I'm back in Houston rehearsing BACHANALIA, Ars Lyrica's all-Bach program for New Year's Eve 2008. The festivities begin at 9 pm Wednesday evening, with a program that features the divine duo of soprano Melissa Givens and bass-baritone Timothy Jones, plus Baroque oboe virtuoso Kathryn Montoya, a complement of strings and yours truly in a couple of Bach wedding cantatas and concertos. A gala reception (with champagne and yummy hors d'oeuvres and sweets) and a silent auction follows, so be sure to bring your checkbook! We've got some wonderful items up for bids this year, all proceeds of which benefit Ars Lyrica. Join us for the classiest New Year's celebration in town, and take home something special for yourself or a friend!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Prop 8 Christmas Gift

Though the passage of Prop 8 in California was hardly a nice present for the gay and lesbian citizens of the Golden State, a wonderfully funny musical spoof of Prop 8 and its effects has recently appeared on the web. See Prop 8 Musical and prepare to laugh out loud...a lot!

Here's hoping that the California Supreme Court does the right thing in the next few months and allows the nearly 20,000 gay and lesbian couples who got married over the last year to remain so. A democratic government should not bestow such a basic right and then yank it away from an entire segment of a population; that's the stuff of tyrants and dictators.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

TX license plates support the arts!

Texas residents and lovers of the arts: the perfect holiday gift awaits you through the Texas Commission on the Arts. Personalized license plates actually benefit arts organization throughout Texas. Read more about it at TCA and get your plates now! Who knew that supporting the arts in our fair state could be so easy -- and you'll never again forget your license plate number.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This Thursday at Beaver's

Come join Ars Lyrica musicians, staff, and friends for "Cultured Cocktails" with Ars Lyrica & Spacetaker, on Thursday, December 4, from 5-10pm at Beaver's: 2310 Decatur Street (just south of Washington at the corner where the "Pigstand" used to be). A portion of the proceeds from "Cultured Cocktails" menu benefits Ars Lyrica, and the event is a great social opportunity for us. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When in Padua...

Never been to Padua? If you're in Houston next Sunday, Nov 23, you can at least hear what a 17th-century Vespers service sounded like in this magnificent Duomo. The program is at 6 pm at Christ the King Lutheran Church (Greenbriar at Rice Blvd), and features the Moores School of Music Collegium Musicum (yours truly, director) and members of Ars Lyrica, all conducted by DMA candidate Richard Robbins. At 5:30 pm, Richard lectures on this program, which will be the first modern performance of several large psalm settings by Leandro Gallerano, a contemporary of Monteverdi who lived and worked in Padua for most of his career. Come join us for an Italian feast!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hats Off to Eastman and UNT

I'm just back from engagements at two major conferences, both celebrating the installation of new organs, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. Hats off to the conference organizers and those responsible for the splendid new instruments, which include (in Rochester) a copy of a late 18th-century German instrument by a builder named Casparini, plus Paul Fritts' latest instrument (at Sacred Heart Cathedral) and a new Taylor & Boody Tannenburg-style organ, which I played last weekend in a pair of recitals at the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsford, NY. Details on the Eastman conference can be found at EROI, aka the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative, founded several years ago to build a significant collection of historic and historically-inspired instruments at this legendary school of music, which has always been a major presence on the worldwide organ scene.

The conference at UNT came about because of the new Helmuth Wolff organ in the Murchison Performing Arts Center (see pic above), which opened nearly a decade ago and is now finally finished with a spectacular-looking instrument. The building itself is equally distinctive: if you're driving by Denton on I-35, it's the building that looks like a very large armadillo!

I was delighted also to have the opportunity to deliver papers at both conferences, on continuo practice in the Bach circle (at EROI) and on the cultural significance of the organ music of J. S. Bach at UNT. Many thanks to the conference organizers for some very stimulating sessions, and memorable music-making!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chron review of "Legendary Lovers"

It was great to see so many of you at "Legendary Lovers" on Friday evening. I'm delighted that we were able to put this program on, despite complications from the hurricane. Many thanks to St Philip Presbyterian Church for accommodating us on such short notice!

The Houston Chronicle review is available online: Ars Lyrica Performance Radiant

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Show Will Go On!

"Legendary Lovers" will go on Friday evening at 7:30, but the venue has changed, since the Hobby Center just announced today (Thursday) that they must close for the weekend. So we'll be giving the concert at St Philip Presbyterian Church, 4807 San Felipe (at West Loop 610) at 7:30 pm.

The Houston curfew order has been changed from 9 pm to midnight, so there's no worry about being stopped going home from the concert. Parking for St Philip is on the east side of the church grounds, between the sanctuary and Yia-Yia Mary's Greek Restaurant. Hope to see many of you Friday evening for one of the only cultural events actually happening this weekend in our fair city!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In OutSmart

Check it out: yours truly is featured in this month's issue of OutSmart, the glossy zine catering to Houston's gay, lesbian, bi and trans communities. The article is a nice summary of both professional and personal activities over the last several years here in Houston (no salacious revelations here, just good clean fun). Guess I'm really out now...Happy reading!

Joel's Classical Relocating

Music-loving friends in Houston will want to know this bit of recent news: Joel's Classical Shop is relocating to 3514B S. Shepherd @ Richmond, as of next weekend. The old shop on Bissonnet is already closed. His phone number and email remain the same.

Houston is lucky to have such a wonderful classical CD store. Here's hoping the new location brings him lots of business and many good years. A toast to Joel and his new shop!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bach next Tuesday at UH

On Tuesday, Aug 26 at the University of Houston my colleague Robert Bates will play Bach's Clavier-Übung Pt. III. Yours truly gets things started at 7:30 pm in Dudley Hall with a lecture on same; the concert follows directly in the Organ Hall next door. For those who've never been: both halls are located in the Fine Arts Building, which is directly across the wooded grove (to the east) from the Moores School of Music, campus entrance no. 16 off Cullen Blvd.

The pic is the newly reconstructed organ at the Frauenkirche in Dresden, where Bach may well have played these pieces for the first time in 1736. The church, though destroyed in WWII, has recently been restored to its original Baroque splendor.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vibrato strikes again!

Those of us who study and teach historical performance practice are forever confronting the vibrato bugaboo. Getting beyond the fear is usually the first (and often the only) order of business: yes, you too can sing or play with less (or more!) vibrato, and it sounds just fine when you do it -- that is, as long as you're doing everything else correctly. It's the "everything else" that's usually the problem: intonation, breath support, a flexible bow arm, etc.

Over the last decade or so, the leading lights of period-instrument performance have been working to expand the reach of this kind of musical practice, both for themselves and the ensembles they conduct. Period-instrument Mozart or Beethoven is now far less controversial than it was in 1990. But vibrato-less Elgar? That's what the London Proms promises this year, as reported in yesterday's NYTimes

I'm particularly struck with Norrington's comment about his love of the pure, vibrato-less string sound, despite his admission that Elgar probably put up with "a fair bit" of it. Once again, taste trumps history. A chacun son goût!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Opera in Santa Fe

Just back from Santa Fe, where opera is the main attraction in the summertime. Here's what the stage of this magical indoor/outdoor theater looked like this past Saturday night, just before the curtain of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro." Anyone who saw Rameau's "Les Boreades" a few years back at BAM will remember the sea of flowers stuck into the stage, which were maniacally pulled out during the prologue. Similar plastic posies were put to great use in the Santa Fe Figaro, especially during the final "garden" scene, and during the overture the stage was plucked in a very genteel manner. Luxurious casting, including Mariusz Kwiecien and Luca Pisaroni as the Count and Figaro, respectively.

In addition to the Mozart, some Houston friends and I saw Handel's "Radamisto" and Kaija Saariaho's latest, "Adriana Mater," in its American première. I went expecting to like the Handel, and who can resist David Daniels, Laura Claycomb, and Heidi Stober, who all sang up a storm. The real surprise for me was the Saariaho work, which was riveting. The libretto (by Amin Maalouf) is both timely and poignant, and the music sensational. Highly recommended!

And it's a good thing the weather and hiking are so good in Santa Fe this time of year, because we did more than our fair share of eating! Are there any bad restaurants there?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Starlets of the coming season

If you didn't catch the interview about our upcoming season on KUHF 88.7 FM this afternoon, you can still listen to it by clicking on The Front Row

And I'm delighted to share some other news. Both Ava Pine and Jamie Barton, our two soloists for the Sept 19 Ars Lyrica season opener, have been getting rave reviews for their summer opera work around the country. Ava is currently appearing in the Wolf Trap Opera production of Handel's "Alcina," which you can read about in the Washington Post and the
Ionarts Blogspot.

Jamie's Susuki in "Madame Butterfly" in St Louis got some great press as well. Read all about it in the Dallas Morning News and
the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

And here's a marvelous picture of Ava, as the Angel in "Angels in America" in Fort Worth earlier this summer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Turkish Holiday

Just back from a couple of weeks in Turkey, which Sixto and I highly recommend for anyone who has never been. We were on the Mediterranean coast for the better part of a week with some good friends from Houston: Robin Angly and Miles Smith, plus her sister Phoebe and son Hart, and their step-sister Allison. We all spent several days in Istanbul as well, and Sixto and I stopped for a few days in Amsterdam on the return.

The pic is of me, Robin and Allison at Saklikent Gorge, which offers a spectacular hike through some icy cold (and fast-moving!) water amid great rock formations.

The scenery on the coast reminded me of the Amalfi coast in Italy, though Turkey has Hellenistic and Roman ruins virtually everywhere you turn. The beaches are wonderful, as is the water and the food. Istanbul is a paradise for historical tourism and shopping; the mosques and the Grand Bazaar have to be seen to be believed! (Yes, we bought rugs and leather jackets...great prices for wonderful things!)

For the complete tour, go to Sixto's gallery of the trip:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A New Organ for St Philip

As promised below (see earlier post), here's a drawing of the new Paul Fritts organ currently under construction in Tacoma, WA, and due to be installed at St Philip Presbyterian here in Houston in Fall 2009. I'll have more details and pics as things progress, but wanted to give Houstonians especially a little peek at our new instrument.

The casework will include pipeshade carvings (not shown) and will likely combine some natural-finished wood with painted and/or gilded surfaces. This is just an initial rendering of the shape, using the wood color found in the church. With three manual divisions and pedal and 48 stops, this will be a major addition to the local scene.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Old reedy things...

Having fielded several questions at the "Duelling Divas" reception about the wind instruments used during that program, I thought I'd devote a few blogs to that topic this summer. I got these photos just recently, from someone in France who is trying to sell an 18th-century bassoon. It's always surprising to see a surviving wind instrument from this era, since they are prone to self-destruction on account of the humidity that eats away the interior of old oboes, bassoons, flutes et al. This one looks pretty well preserved, but I've no idea whether it's playable.

The key different between a baroque bassoon and a modern one is the lack of many keys on the baroque instrument. Notice the fairly large fingerholes, which (as on a recorder) are the means by which a bassoonist changes from one note to the next. This is a three-keyed instrument, which was typical in the 18th century. The sound of an instrument like this is both earthier and quieter than a modern bassoon, and it blends beautifully with the quirky sound of the baroque oboe and fits seemlessly with cello and bass in a continuo line of a baroque orchestra.

The case is also quite extraordinary, a beautiful piece of furniture in its own right!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Organ News

At St Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston (where I'm the organist), we're eagerly anticipating the Fall 2009 delivery of a new pipe organ from Paul Fritts of Tacoma, WA. His most recent opus is currently on its way to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, NY. You can read all about it in a wonderful article from the Tacoma paper:

The new instrument at St Philip, of approximately the same size as the Rochester instrument, will have a more contemporary case to harmonize with our more modern-looking sanctuary, which was recently renovated from top to bottom. The new acoustics and enlarged choir/organ gallery at St Philip make a perfect home for the new Fritts organ. With three manual divisions and pedal and 48 stops, it will be a major addition to the local scene -- and Paul's first instrument anywhere in Texas!

Stay tuned for images of the new instrument, which I'll be posting once we have them from the builder.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Summer's here!

Summer always brings music festivals and travels, and this year is no exception. Yours truly will be off to Turkey in a month, and can't wait to see Istanbul, the Aegean Sea, the mosques, the rugs....

Keeping track of musician friends this time of year is a special challenge, but for the intrepid, here's a quick list of some websites that will tell you where to hear your favorite singers this summer:

Happy surfing!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ars Lyrica in Beaumont

Just back from Beaumont, where Ars Lyrica played an all-Italian chamber program this afternoon at First United Methodist Church. Performers included Melissa Givens (soprano), Gerrod Pagenkopf, (countertenor), Alan Austin (baroque violin), Brady Lanier (baroque cello) and yours truly on the wire machine. Check out their great sanctuary windows and the article about us at

Many thanks to Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, the church's director of music (and a former student: DMA in choral conducting from the Moores School), and to the Leland Best Council for the Arts at FUMC Beaumont for the opportunity to share some of our favorite pieces with you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reviews of "Duelling Divas"

Well, the divas had their duel and I'm delighted to report that there were no casualties! In fact, it was one of the more enjoyable evenings we've spent on the Zilkha Hall stage. If you haven't yet seen it, here are the links to Chas Ward's review in the Houston Chronicle and Holly Beretto's review in Arts Houston:

Many thanks to all who made "Duelling Divas" such a great evening!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The lowdown on Phoebus...

Just when you thought you'd heard it all...some interesting news about a Bach cantata.

Bach's "Phoebus and Pan" (on the upcoming May 11 Ars Lyrica program) has gotten some attention recently on a website that's never before dabbled in Bach criticism or research. At least one writer considers Phoebus' big aria as a rare example of homoeroticism in Bach. Here's the link: While the author of this article is correct as far as the old legend goes, I wonder how many of us are prepared to admit of such goings-on in Bach. Not many in the Bach industry, or so it would seem!

I'll be interested to know how this colors your hearing of the work on our "Duelling Divas" program at Zilkha Hall. See you there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Saint-Saens Weekend

Yours truly returns to Jones Hall this weekend for another go at the Saint-Saens' "Organ Symphony," with the Houston Symphony and conductor Louis Langrée. Here's hoping the HSO has rented an electronic organ powerful enough to compete with the orchestra in this masterpiece of the symphonic literature. Also on the program: one of Saint-Saens' violin concertos with Karen Gomyo, violinist, and Messiaen's "Les offrandes oubliées." I'm also doing the prelude lecture before each performance. Check the HSO website for more details:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Marian Feast Notes

Our program this coming Saturday is devoted to Baroque music on Marian themes. Tor those who like to read the program notes in advance, here they are. See you at Zilkha Hall on Saturday night!

Marian Feast Program Notes:

History has not always been kind to great composers. But with the advent of a historically conscious mode of performance, we’ve gotten to know most of the movers and shakers of the Baroque period, even if our judgment of their worth is sometimes a bit skewed. The Scarlatti family is a case in point. All keyboard players know a sonata or two by Domenico Scarlatti, but how many of us have ever heard an opera by his father Alessandro? In the eighteenth century this situation was neatly reversed: Domenico was known mostly by reputation, since he worked for a reclusive Spanish court and traveled little, while Alessandro was widely revered as the greatest master of Italian vocal music. As Michelangelo had done in the Renaissance for virtually all areas of the visual arts, Alessandro Scarlatti perfected the major musical genres of the Italian Baroque. His prodigious output, which includes 100 operas, 600 cantatas, and 30 oratorios, has only recently begun to make its way back into the repertoire.

Scarlatti wrote most of his sacred works for either wealthy churchmen or religious organizations known as confraternities. One such group, the Knights of the Virgin of Sorrows in Naples, commissioned his Stabat Mater in 1724 (they would later commission Pergolesi’s famous setting of the same text). This venerable text, of thirteenth-century Franciscan origins, conveys in twenty rhyming strophes a timeless message: the Virgin Mary’s grief at Jesus’s crucifixion is shared by mankind, which through this sacrifice is redeemed. It was sung regularly as a Gregorian sequence hymn until the Council of Trent (c1550), which suppressed it until the early eighteenth century, when it reappeared in the Good Friday liturgy and at other penitential times. The text was set by many Renaissance and Baroque composers, including Domenico Scarlatti, who used it to create a tour-de-force work with ten independent vocal parts. Alessandro’s setting has all the hallmarks of his individual style: noble yet quirky melodies, expressive yet unpredictable harmonies, and refined though never fussy embellishments. Its scoring, for two treble solos plus two violins and continuo, reflects the modest resources of the Neapolitan confraternity.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber was one of the greatest virtuoso violinists of his day. While in service to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, he compiled a collection of violin sonatas unmatched for their time in both originality and in sheer technical demands. Like the Catholic Rosary, these “Rosary” or “Mystery” Sonatas include a series of “joyful,” “sorrowful” and “glorious” mysteries: five sonatas in each category, fifteen in all. These works were meant to accompany devotions, and each offers something for the eye as well: in the manuscript, elegant little copper engravings before each depict the mystery mentioned in the sonata’s title.

In the end, the descriptive titles are more allusive than descriptive of what actually happens during these sonatas. The “Annunciation” Sonata alludes to that moment, commemorated in countless artworks, when the Angel Gabriel brings Mary the news that she will give birth to the Messiah. The “Assumption,” another important Marian feast, celebrates the passage of both her body and soul into Heaven. The former uses the violin’s normal tuning, while the latter uses a mild scordatura, or deliberate mistuning of the violin’s strings. While conceptually challenging, the scordatura actually enables the violinist to play the notes that Biber wrote more efficiently, with fewer awkward fingerings and string crossings that would be required to play these notes with the normal setup of a violin’s strings.

The Oratorio on the Conception of the Virgin Mary is one of only two surviving Latin oratorios by Scarlatti. First performed in Rome in 1703, the work recycles music from one of the composer’s earlier Italian-language oratorios: I Dolori di Maria Sempre Vergine (Naples, 1693), which is no longer extant. Its modest scoring, for SATB soloists plus two violins and continuo, contrasts with the standard four-part string complement of most oratorios from this time. Its libretto, in contrast, was utterly pertinent in 1703: La Concettione promotes the doctrine of Mary’s immaculate conception, which at the dawn of the eighteenth century was not yet a settled issue.

This doctrine, whose theological roots go back to the Middle Ages, became a kind of theological lightening rod in Counter-Reformation Rome, which sought to distinguish itself in the strongest possible terms from the heresies of the Protestants. At its core was the idea that Mary, though conceived “in the way of all flesh,” was born without original sin. During the seventeenth century especially, this doctrine was challenged both from within and from without, leading to several papal pronouncements on the matter and a number of sympathetic artistic treatments of the issue, including musical compositions.

Lingering doubts about the state of Mary’s fetal soul were effectively silenced by Pope Clement XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani), who in 1708 made the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a holiday of obligation, thus insuring compliance (i.e., attendance at mass on this day) among the faithful. As luck would have it, Albani shared a common history with Scarlatti: they were both active at the artistic Accademia founded by the exiled Queen Christina of Sweden, whom Scarlatti served as maestro di capella from 1679 to 1684. Scarlatti’s theatrical ambitions kept him elsewhere for most of the next two decades, but in 1703 he returned to the Eternal City, where he found the theaters shuttered by papal decree. Like most of his contemporaries, Scarlatti turned to oratorios and cantatas on commission for wealthy ecclesiastical patrons like cardinals Ottoboni and Pamphili. La Concettione della Beata Vergine was probably first heard at one of their palaces, or perhaps at the Oratorio del Crocifisso in the Church of San Marcello, the epicenter of Roman oratorio performances since the early seventeenth century.

Oratorios from this time tend to comprise two more or less equal parts. This work is no exception to that general rule, though its two parts are quite brief, with barely five arias apiece and just a few short ensembles. In comparison to Scarlatti’s other works in this genre, La Concettione della Beata Vergine seems like only half an oratorio; and indeed, the sources suggest that its lost predecessor was longer. The final chorus of La Concettione (the only movement that involves all four singers) was clearly meant to conclude this work; its emphatic quatrain, with deliberately inverted syntax at the end, precludes any more text: “Quae est hodie concepta/a crimine immunis/laetitia communis/triumphat Maria.” But most of the surviving parts arrive at the final word of text and then fall silent on a dominant chord (necessitating the invention of a few bars of music for this performance), while the continuo part cadences, then continues in a new meter and key. Whoever adapted the old music to the new libretto seems to have realized, only after copying out several bars of the next section from the lost earlier work, that he had gone too far. Why he failed to correct the mistake and supply a final cadence in the other parts remains a mystery.

One other inevitable problem with a contrafactum (a work whose music originated with another text) is the sometimes awkward fit of old music and new words. Most problematic in this regard in La Concettione are arias like “Conceptam Virginem,” whose languid melody and dark key of B minor is at odds with the song of praise announced in its text.

The anonymous libretto is allegorical, not dramatic, and hews closely to the central points of a doctrine dear to the Catholic faith. At the outset Grace (alto) asserts that Mary, from the moment of her conception onwards, was untainted by original sin. The Serpent (bass), finding this notion preposterous, taunts Grace and throws down the gauntlet: Heresy (tenor) will do his bidding on earth, sowing doubt and discord among the faithful. The Archangel Michael (soprano) intervenes, reinforcing Grace’s doctrinal line, which is developed mostly by the latter in a series of arias. In the end, both Heresy and the Serpent reluctantly capitulate, much as those who doubted the doctrine (including sizeable numbers of clergy) were forced to acquiesce as the Church pressed its case for Mary’s immaculate conception.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ars Lyrica's first CD on Naxos

Audiences and critics alike have been enthusiastic about Ars Lyrica programming in general and the Alessandro Scarlatti programs in particular. We are pleased to announce that a recent Ars Lyrica recording of Scarlatti's music will be available on the NAXOS label later this year. The disc features two major works of Scarlatti that have never before been recorded: Euridice dall'Inferno and La Concettione della Beata Vergine (plus his Sonata in C minor for cello and continuo and Toccata in A major for solo harpsichord).

Read what critics say about Ars Lyrica's performance of Scarlatti's music:

"Dirst led a vigorous performance that revealed the brilliance and depth of Scarlatti's music very well. Every singer poured great intensity into the music [and] the accompaniment by the continuo group was exquisitely sensitive and colorful."
Houston Chronicle on l primo omicidio

"Ars Lyrica's presentation came as close to opera as I've ever seen with three sterling singers, crisp articulation from the period-instrument string-and-continuo band, and intelligent, detailed direction."
Arts Houston on La Giuditta

Free Concert at the Museum of Fine Arts

MFAH "Artful Thursday" presentation

Learn more about Alessandro Scarlatti's masterpieces in a lecture presentation by yours truly, with musical illustrations by Ars Lyrica's singers.

Lecture recital: A Marian Feast

Thursday, Feb 21, 2008, at 6:30 pm, MFAH Brown Auditorium

Matthew Dirst, lecture
Kinga Ferguson, soprano
Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor

Co-sponsored by KUHF 88.7 FM.

The program will be followed by a reception

Pictures from New Year's Eve celebration

We are happy to report that our New Year's Eve celebration was a great success.
The concert had the largest audience to date, and the party and the auction were also well attended and received.

For pictures from both events, please visit:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Early Music a luxury item again!

Have a look at the January issue of Houston Modern Luxury magazine for the latest sign that Kinga Ferguson, Ars Lyrica's executive director, is finding creative new ways of getting the word out. There's a profile of yours truly just inside the back cover, with the obligatory glam photo. It's a great piece of publicity, though I'll admit that the pic is kinda scary. Houston Luxury can be found in high-end shops, hair salons, restaurants, etc and is available for free at those locations.

After years of jokes about harpsichordists and their granola and birkenstocks, it's interesting to see that early music is once again a luxury item -- which is, after all, precisely what it was during the 18th century and before.