Versailles – March 11, 2018

Baroque & Beyond
Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin, Chapel Hill

The season finale for the early music series Baroque & Beyond takes place in Chapel Hill on March 11, with a program of music by composers associated with Versailles. François Couperin’s name is probably the most familiar, at least to listeners with an interest in baroque-period music. Couperin (1668-1733) was born into a renowned musical family – one comparable to the extensive Bach family in Germany. Ultimately recognized as the most famous member of the Couperin musical dynasty, François is today referred to as “Couperin le Grand”. He was among the most celebrated harpsichordists of his day. His music has been described as a poetic universe, one that transports the listener straight into paintings of the period such as those by Watteau.

A second well-known composer is Marin Marais (1656-1728). A consummate player and composer for the viola da gamba and other instruments of the viol family, Marais was said to play like an angel. Much of his output is centered in compositions for viols, although he wrote larger works (operas, sacred works) as well. His Pièces en Trio for flutes, violin, dessus de viol, and basso continuo, contains six suites, one of which opens the March 11 concert.

Moving on to composers who are less likely to be household names, Louis-Antoine Dornel was an organist, harpsichordist and violinist who wrote keyboard music, four books of chamber music, cantatas and vocal pieces. On this program, listeners will hear a work for three treble voices (no bass or continuo) from his third book of chamber music.

A remarkable composer whose music was popular at Versailles was Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. It would be unfair to think of her as a woman composer in an era when that was rare, because that might detract from the very high quality of her compositions. Elisabeth Jacquet was born into a family of musicians and instrument makers and was a child prodigy; she performed at a young age for King Louis XIV. As a teenager she was brought to the French court where her education was supervised by the king’s mistress. She married the organist Marin de La Guerre, and afterwards she taught, composed, and gave concerts throughout Paris that were highly admired. She was an accomplished improviser. The March 11 concert includes one of her sonatas for violin, viol and basso continuo.

Last on the program is Deuxième Recreation de Musique, Op. 8 of Jean-Marie Leclair, a violinist and composer who is considered to have founded the French violin school.

The program highlights the talents of Jennifer Streeter, recorder; Gesa Kordes, violin; Gail Ann Schroeder, viols; and Beverly Biggs, harpsichord. Streeter grew up in Europe, holds degrees in recorder and harpsichord from Indiana University, and now lives in Cary. Kordes was born in Germany, performs internationally, and has founded early string programs at UNC Greensboro and at the University of Alabama, where she serves on the faculty. Schroeder completed her musical studies in Belgium, serving as assistant to Wieland Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory, and teaching for many years at the Brussels Conservatory before returning to the U.S. and settling in Asheville. Biggs is Artistic Director of Baroque & Beyond and an active freelance harpsichordist. Musician bios can be found at under the Musician tab.

Tickets for the concert are $18 and are available in advance online from Preservation Chapel Hill and also at the door. Suggested parking is the Planetarium lot next door or the Rosemary parking deck. The concert venue is the historic chapel at Chapel of the Cross.


  • Suite No. 1 in C major, Pieces en Trio – Marin Marais
  • Suite from 14th Ordre (arr. recorder & harpsichord) – F. Couperin
  • Sonata No. 4 in G for violin, viol & b.c. – Jacquet de la Guerre
  • Sonate a 3 dessus in G major – Louis-Antoine Dornel
  • Deuxieme recreation de musique, Op. 8 – Jean-Marie Leclair