Historically-Informed Performance Practice
Now several generations old, the performance practice movement operates with a fundamental premise that is both simple and powerful: music from the past was not written with modern instruments in mind. While Bach, Mozart, and Schubert can sound fabulous on today's instruments, the experience of hearing such repertoire on the historical instruments for which it was composed can be a revelation.
Staunton's mission is to "Rethink Classical," and that extends to historically-informed performance practice. At Staunton all music composed before 1850 is performed on period instruments (original and replica) by professional musicians highly trained in historical traditions of interpretation and style. We invite you to meet some of those musicians below.
Through the generosity of private owners and universities, Staunton Music Festival is proud to feature several early keyboards in its concerts. These special guests include replicas of fortepianos by Walter (ca. 1795) and Conrad Graf (ca. 1830), two magnificent organs built by the famed Taylor & Boody makers, and a half dozen harpsichords of varying eras and national origins. In Staunton you will hear Chopin played on an 1830 piano, or Bach on a replica of an instrument he himself owned. Staunton believes in the power of such experiences.
Many of the string players who come to Staunton each year are particularly expert in historical performance traditions, and they bring with them multiple instruments to perform the Festival's varied repertoire. Violins, violas, cellos, double basses, and guitars all have their modern versions and their early kin: Baroque and early Classical violins and violas, for example, or viola da gambas, violone, lutes, and theorbos all take center stage in Staunton. That fact brings new life to familiar masterworks, whether it is a Vivaldi concerto, Bach cello suite, or a Beethoven symphony. History matters at Staunton.