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Burning River Baroque

Cleveland Hts., OH            

Praised by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as a group that “left an indelible imprint on my psyche,” Cleveland-based Burning River Baroque is an innovative artist-run ensemble with the goal of connecting diverse communities through vibrant musical performances that inspire engaging dialogues and meaningful social change. Since its formation in 2012 Burning River Baroque has presented 15-20 concerts each season and has recorded and released two live CDs and DVDs . With each new season, we further our intention of presenting programs that use classical music to reframe and engage with current reality, rather than using it as a privileged escape from contemporary life. 

Our group name, Burning River Baroque, is frequently a conversation-starter when we travel outside of Cleveland. In addition to connoting Cleveland’s history and the fiery passion of our performances, our name reflects our practice of programming concerts around historical themes of social change and tying them to current issues in a way that feels fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences. While the burning of the Cuyahoga River was tragic, it inspired actions and programs that have made Lake Erie and Cleveland’s waterways exceptionally clean. 

Our community is essential to the conception and success of our projects. We create programs that are artistically appealing, educational, and that have the capacity to make people think critically about current events. Recent concerts have centered around thought-provoking themes, including refugees, sexual assault, and relationship violence. For each program, we partner with other local Cleveland organizations whose mission aligns with our musical programming. Last year included “Suppressed Voices: Music of the Banished,” which shed light on composers and characters who were driven from their homelands for various social, political, and religious reasons. For that program we worked with Refugee Services of Cleveland and the Jewish Family Service Association Cleveland. Our current programs,  “Destructive Desires” and “The Other Side of the Story,” focus on issues raised in the #MeToo movement, and we are working with the Renee Jones Empowerment Center to present a workshop and concert for victims of sexual trafficking. Burning River Baroque is committed to reaching the broadest possible audience base, so we present programs in traditional concert venues as well as unconventional locations like Lab Studios by Glo, the Stone Oven, and the Wine Spot.

We also actively engage with our audiences during performances to encourage a participatory concert atmosphere. By doing so, we break the fourth wall and involve audiences in the drama that is occurring onstage. We speak to audiences during performances about both the music and the way it connects to contemporary social issues, and we regularly have compelling post-concert discussions with audience members. Carefully written program notes and libretto translations also support high-energy performances, educating and involving audience members from seasoned concert-goers to those just discovering classical music. Our commitment to education extends to our partnership with Bard High School Early College, where we inspire future generations of musicians by presenting lectures, masterclasses, and concerts. To further demonstrate the significant connections between issues of the past and modern times, our programs have evolved to include a newly-commissioned contemporary piece each year. 

Agrippina condotta a morire – G.F. Handel, HWV 110

Burning River Baroque engages with the global refugee crisis through Handel’s dramatization of a fallen political leader in Rome 2000 years ago.
Performed Mar. 24, 2018 at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights, OH.

Malina Rauschenfels, soprano
Paula Maust, harpsichord
Sarah Elizabeth Cranor, baroque violin
Reynaldo Patiño, baroque violin
Jessica Korotkin, baroque cello


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Rien du Tout – Nicolas Racot de Grandval

Nicolas Racot de Grandval (1676-1753)
Burning River Baroque – live at Boston Early Music Fringe Festival in 2015

Malina Rauschenfels, soprano
Luke Conklin, winds
Peter Lekx, baroque violin
Phillip W Serna, viola da gamba
Paula Maust, harpsichord

Subtitles, Zoe Neely

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Handel’s “O Numi Eterni” or La Lucrezia

Burning River Baroque explores and dramatization of Lucrezia’s descent into madness and suicide after her rape as well as the portrayal of women’s “madness” in Baroque times.
Performed March 24th, 2017 in Park Ridge, IL

Malina Rauschenfels, soprano
Paula Maust, harpsichord

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