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Follies Festivals


This program centers around one of the earliest written forms of instrumental dance music - the folia. From the boisterous street festivals of fifteenth-century Portugal to the refined entertainments of royal European courts, folias carried the spontaneous energy of popular music into the world of art music. These irresistible dance pieces, which were transmitted via the high spirited strumming of the Spanish guitar, emboldened 17th century composers to create exuberant and playful compositions of their own. The selections on this recording include folias from Spain, Italy and France, along with pieces built upon other ground bass dances and those that incorporate dance rhythms in their structures. The first references to the folias in Spanish and Portuguese writings assume that the reader already knew what a folia was.

While we don't have the information to visualize a specific folia, we do know the word folias was associated with a poetic form, absurd lyrics, manic dance steps, a type of gathering, student entertainments, and the costumes and choreographies of cross dressers. By the time the folia was defined as a particular chord progression in the seventeenth century, it no longer encompassed the lyrics, dance steps and social situations of the earliest folias.  

The Baroque ensemble Belladonna was founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1993, and has since performed in festivals and music series in USA, Brazil. Canada and Europe . The group was featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, Pittsburgh’s WQED-FM classical music station, as well as the nationally syndicated radio program Harmonia.Their critically acclaimed Folias Festivas CD was released on the Dorian label. The quartet has received wide recognition for their exciting interpretation of familiar works and their colorful arrangements of little-known pieces. Belladonna was a 10 year artist-in-residence ensemble for the Schubert Club of St. Paul, and was a Class Notes Artists in Residence for Minnesota Public Radio, where they present outreach educational programs to children in public schools around the state. http://www.belladonna-baroque.com

Clea Galhano, recorder  
Margaret Humphrey, baroque violin
Rebecca Humphrey, baroque cello  
Barbara Weiss, harpsichord



Midtown Concerts sponsors lunchtime performances of music of the 18th century and earlier. Ensembles are chosen by a panel of early music specialists from the metropolitan area.

Time: Thursdays, 1:15–2:00 pm
All concerts are free; no tickets or reservations are necessary.

Concerts are in person at St. Malachy's Church, 239 West 49th Street, Manhattan, AND live streamed.