Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Can a Christmas carol be controversial? The creator of "Hark how all the Welkin rings" certainly wasn't too happy when a revised version became of his text came out. Find out more about all the poetic shade that was thrown with Leighann Daihl Ragusa, curator of the BBE's 2017 Carols program.

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Why Christmas Carols Made Me Love Christmas Again

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Why Christmas Carols Made Me Love Christmas Again

They say that music can change lives. The BBE's Thomas Alaan gets personal and shares why he didn't always like Christmas, but how a 2015 BBE performance of all-Christmas carols and the #bbefamily changed his tune. Find out how that happened in this tell-all blog, and look or his upcoming book, "Going Rogue: A Countertenor's Tale." (#JustKidding)

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Wassailing?? What’s waaaassailing?

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Wassailing?? What’s waaaassailing?

What is Wassailing? Is it a type of boat? Is it the past tense of a verb? Actually, "wassailing" can mean several things, though most of them seem to revolve around food or beverages. (We don't object.) Learn more about wassailing - and how to brew your own wassail drink! - with Leighann Daihl Ragusa, curator of the BBE's 2017 Carols program.

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The Evolution of Carols

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The Evolution of Carols

We think that carols belong exclusively to the Christmas season - but that's not true! For centuries, we sang carols during all four seasons, at weddings and birthdays, and during other holidays and occasions. Even the Christmas carols we know today, well, they’ve gone through some changes. Learn more about the history of carols with Leighann Daihl Ragusa, curator of the BBE's 2017 Carols program.

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Harpsichord: Brilliantly Strung

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Harpsichord: Brilliantly Strung

This predecessor of the piano is probably the best known early Western musical instrument known to modern audiences. Join national treasure David Schrader to learn more about the harpsichord!

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Recorders Are For Grown Ups

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Recorders Are For Grown Ups

It’s true. Most people associate recorders with screeching, neon-colored plastic instruments. But listen to Laura Osterlund play, and you'll wish you'd paid more attention in elementary music class!

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Baroque Oboe: The Leading Reed

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Baroque Oboe: The Leading Reed

What do you get when you employ two creative Frenchmen as the resident artists of your 17th century court? With some luck, you'll get the Baroque oboe. Explore the "leading reed" with Sung Lee!

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Traverso: “The Love Glue”

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Traverso: “The Love Glue”

Love glue: two words you never thought you'd see together in classical music. But, there they are. Find out what that actually means, and meet our traverso player, Leighann Daihl Ragusa!

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The Viol: Bowed and Fretted

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The Viol: Bowed and Fretted

It kind of looks like a cello... only it's not! It's called a viola da gamba, which means "leg-viol." Come explore this beautiful and versatile instrument with BBE artist and Chicago favorite, Anna Steinhoff.

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The Versatile Violin

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The Versatile Violin

Once upon a time (c.1500) in a land far, far away (Italy), a maiden named Isabella d’Este made the purchase of a lifetime in c. 1500. You probably guessed it: the violin. Explore that purchase, and how the violin has evolved since the 16th century, with BBE Artistic Director, Brandi Berry.

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Sackbut: A Genius Design

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Sackbut: A Genius Design

The early trombone (also called a sackbut) has remained relatively unchanged since it was invented in the 15th century. That’s a pretty stellar run, but as the saying goes, “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.” Join us as we explore this *genius* instrument with Paul Von Hoff. 

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What the heck is a cornetto?

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What the heck is a cornetto?

Some of the instruments we're using for our Chicago Stories project don't have a modern counterpart. Bill Baxtresser, member of Gaudete Brass and Rook, plays a really unique instrument that has no sound or physical shape remotely close to anything we have today. It's called a cornetto, and no, it's not a brand of ice cream.

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A New Approach to New Music

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A New Approach to New Music

Did you ever stop and think that Bach and Beethoven, in their times, were creating new music? Not a soul had ever heard Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos or the Mass in B Minor, or Beethoven’s nine symphonies, before their premieres. B&B were at the cutting edge, and that's where we aim to go, too. Join us as we start our journey through a new project: Chicago Stories.

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A Gaelic Summer w/Kiyoe

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A Gaelic Summer w/Kiyoe

California native Kiyoe Matsuura (kee-yo-eh) is a dual-wielding Baroque and modern violin player that likes R&B and rap. She'll be playing up a storm at A Gaelic Summer, and answering the age old question: what do you do with a drunken sailor?

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A Gaelic Summer w/Thomas

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A Gaelic Summer w/Thomas

Thomas Aláan (pronounced uh-LAY-uhn) is a displaced West Virginian who sings like a girl - and that's awesome. He'll be leading all the drinking songs at A Gaelic Summer. The question everyone's dying to know, though: can he hold his liquor?

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A Gaelic Summer w/Holly

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A Gaelic Summer w/Holly

The BBE teams up with Holly Nastenko, the creative crocheting mind behind DaisyJoyStore, to create the BBE's next animal mascot friend, BBEaver. Find out about Holly and her work here!

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New Music: Orbits

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New Music: Orbits

As part of its collaboration (Humanities in Spaaaace!) with the DePaul University Humanities Center, the BBE is pleased to perform two new commissioned pieces, based on the theme "Orbits."

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Review: "Grace, Joy, Sincerity"

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Review: "Grace, Joy, Sincerity"

The opera dates back to 1725. In North America, historical evidence tells us, a Philadelphia audience attended a performance of the piece in 1798. That was it until two months ago, when, on consecutive days, two audiences in Chicago had the privilege. And last Saturday evening, that opportunity was extended to Bloomington: to experience in concert what may be the first opera ever written in Scotland, “The Gentle Shepherd.”

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