A musician often faces challenges in learning a new program. But Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra lead violinist Allison Edberg has faced an unusual one as she prepares for the group's "Vehemently Vivaldi" concert as part of the Greencastle Summer Music Festival at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.
The challenge is the new instrument she's been learning for the IBO's upcoming concerts in Greencastle and Indianapolis.
"For these concerts I have been asked to play the viola d'amore, a seven-stringed instrument about the size of a viola," Edberg explains. "The maker carved a lady's head instead of the traditional scroll.
"One of the trickiest things has been the length on the instrument. I keep bonking into the music stand with the beautiful carved head," she says.
So far, the instrument remains unscathed.
Meanwhile, Edberg has been falling in love with the sound of the instrument, whose name literally translated is "viola of love."
"It has a set of sympathetic strings that vibrate as you play on others, and give the instrument a wonderful resonance," she said.
The concert features works by the "red-haired priest," Antonio Vivaldi, who was known as a wild and dramatic violin virtuoso as well as a prolific composer.
"This concert is full of the fast and fiery music Vivaldi is famous for. The violins are really having to work!" says Edberg, who has red hair herself.
Edberg will be joined by fellow violinists Martha Perry and James Johnson, violist Brandi Berry, cellist Christine Kyprainides and harpsichordist Tom Gerber.
The Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra began in 1995 when a group of area musicians entranced with "period" instruments gathered to read through music of the 17th and 18th centuries.
"The instruments we hear in most concerts today have evolved significantly from those used at the time Vivaldi and Bach were composing. In the 19th and 20th centuries, numerous changes were made to make instruments louder and brighter as large concert halls developed," explains Eric Edberg, the DePauw music professor who organizes the festival at Gobin. "Groups like the IBO are dedicated to playing 'early music' using playing techniques and instruments as much like the composers would have heard as possible."
The IBO has become one of the top professional period-instrument ensembles in the country. Internationally known flutist Barthold Kuijken is the group's artistic director.
On Sunday, July 10 Wednesday's players will be joined by others, including Ronn McFarlane on lute, as the IBO performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Indiana History Center as part of the 45th Indianapolis Early Music Festival.