Red Priest gave an amazing performance tonight for Houston Early Music, complete with their trademark rearrangements of famous Vivaldi concerti and Halloween-inspired shenanigans. These four players, led by recorder virtuoso Piers Adams, have been compared to the Rolling Stones (among other groups), and now I see why. They play with an enthusiasm that goes well beyond the familiar swaying and ducking of even the most physical of early music practitioners. It’s a fascinating combination of both spot-on playing with the imagination — and sheer nerve — of the best jazzers or rock musicians. Utterly fascinating, though some of the music — particularly the Corelli "Folia" at the end — came completely apart in their hands, though no one there (myself included) seemed to mind!
Red Priest will do their outreach concert at the Shepherd School this coming Tuesday, October 27, at 12:10pm. They’ll perform in Hirsch hall (enter the building from the parking lot and turn left), and it’s free. Please do come and spread the word!
Gregory Barnett Associate Professor of Musicology Rice University The Shepherd School of Music – MS 532 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892
Red Priest conjures the spirit of Halloween – Living – MiamiHerald.com
BY REBECCA J. RITZEL
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
… Adams leads Red Priest — a quartet named for the flame-haired cleric and composer Antonio Vivaldi — that opens the St. Martha-Yamaha Concert Series in Miami Shores on Saturday.
Ever since the ensemble released its Nightmare in Venice CD in 2000, he says, it has been asked to play music from the album on U.S. tours.
“For some reason, you tend to go very big into Halloween over there, so we always end up playing our big Nightmare in Venice Halloween spectacular,” Adams said, speaking from his home in England last week. “It’s actually nice to come back to it each year. It’s a funky program, and we rather like doing it.”
If “funky” seems an odd adjective for Baroque music, well, that’s because Red Priest is an unusual Baroque ensemble, given to creeping onstage in dark-hooded capes, employing atmospheric lighting and even fog machines to amp up the ambience for Vivaldi’s La Notteconcerto, otherwise known as The Nightmare.
Red Priest brings drama to chamber music, but that’s not why Paul Posnak, a piano performance professor at the University of Miami and founding artistic director of the St. Martha’s series, booked the group.
“Under all the theatricality, all the costumes, these are serious musicians and scholars,” Posnak said. “People are going to be dazzled.” …
See also video at Red Priest conjures the spirit of Halloween – Living – MiamiHerald.com
The season launches with the notorious renegade of the recorder, Piers Adams, and his famed UK-based group, Red Priest, presenting Nightmare in Venice, just in time for Halloween, on Tuesday, October 27, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman at Main.
Adams, a rock star of the early music genre, is known for bending the rules and for high theatrics. “We don’t set out to cause trouble, honestly,” quips Adams, Red Priest’s artistic director. “But we do like to shake off all of those early music straitjackets and preconceptions, so that we’re no longer bound by a fear of what the composer—long dead as he is—might think.”
According to Houston Early Music artistic director Nancy Ellis, Red Priest is a bit like early music gone wild. “They are known for being way out there,” says Ellis. “They will most definitely add some spice to our programming.” The program includes Vivaldi’s Nightmare Concerto, Tartini’s Devil’s Trill sonata, Masque music by Robert Johnson, Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Leclair’s Demon Airs and Red Priest’s own Fantasia on Corelli’s La Follia. “Expect some Halloween flavor,” says Adams. “Taking Vivaldi’s spooky and dramatic concerto La Notteas a place to begin, we will explore the myriad themes of fantasy, myth and horror in the Baroque, not forgetting that the word ‘baroque’ itself means strange, bizarre and irregular.” Red Priest really lets it go in Corelli’s La Follia. “Using this famous ground as a starting point, and Corelli’s variations as a loose structure, we pass through many musical styles from gypsy to Indian to modern jazz,” adds Adams.
Some of the fun ingredients in the Red Priest mix include creating their own original arrangements, incorporating stylistic elements from the world and folk music realms, bringing out stories and drama in the music, and wildly colorful costumes. Adams has been referred to as early music’s version of The Rolling Stones, and he doesn’t mind the comparison in the least. “We definitely want to shake things up,” says Adams. “We want to find the most eye- and ear-catching ways to present what we consider to be some of the most fantastic music ever written to the widest possible audience, even if that does mean stretching the boundaries a little.”
Houston Early Music is pleased to announce that you can now purchase tickets to our performances on our web site, using major credit cards. We are using the Brown Paper Tickets service, especially suited for non-profit performing arts organizations. Brown Paper Tickets allows Houston Early Music to offer this service at very low cost, ensuring that the maximum amount of your ticket price goes for actual concert expenses.
At this time, the first concert Red Priest is available for sale. In a few weeks we will add the remaining concerts to this service.