A two-concert series called the Vashon French Baroque Festival will begin tonight at Bethel Church and continue next Wednes-day, Jan. 16, with programs of chamber music from the court of Louis XIV.
The concerts — the kickoff of a larger early music concert series that will run through June at Bethel Church — will be presented by the Salish Sea Early Music Festival, directed by renowned early music scholar and flutist Jeffrey Cohan. The program will include many works that will be heard for the first time since the 18th century at the very low pitch used in Louis’ court — more than two tones below today’s pitch.
All the musicians appearing in the series — hailing from Germany, Montreal, Eugene, Los Angeles and the Northwest — will play period instruments similar to ones used in the 1700s.
Tonight’s concert, “The Little Evening Concerts for Louis XIV,” will premiere music discovered by Cohan in an elaborate and completely unknown manuscript of 770 pages titled “Suite des Symphonies: For the little evening concerts given for His Majesty (Louis XIV).” Cohan found and transcribed the manuscript in Paris.
The music, prepared in 1713 for the aging king, will be performed by Cohan in the one-keyed flute of the period, along with Joanna Blendulf on viola de gamba, Christine Wilkinsen on baroque flute and Steven Creswell on baroque viola.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, for the second concert, The Sun King’s Musicians will present works originally performed by members of the king’s Musique de la Chambre, one of the primary divisions of his court’s musical establishment. Players will include Cohan, Blendulf and John Lenti on baroque guitar.
“Cohan is a wonderful player who exploits all the richly expressive potential of the baroque wooden flute with ease and subtlety,” said a recent review in The Washington Post.
Both concerts are at 7:30 p.m. at Bethel Church, 14736 S.W. Bethel Lane. The suggested donation is $15 to $25 for all concerts. Youth 18 and younger are free. For more information, call 567-4255, or visit www.salishseafestival.org.