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Quo Vadis: A New Composition for Old Instruments

Three Notch’d Road has commissioned a new work for period instruments and voices by composer Mark Nowakowski based on the Quo Vadis legend.

The Latest Update

A Successful Premiere!

On February 3 and 4, Three Notch’d Road had the privilege of premiering Mark Nowakowski’s setting of Sub Tuum Praesidium.  Our performances in Staunton and Charlottesville, Virginia were well attended and enthusiastically received by our audiences.  About 225 attended the performances.

It was a thrill for our early music ensemble to have access to a living composer for once!  Mark joined us for two days of rehearsal, allowing for questions to be answered and adjustments to be made.  Portions of the final product can be heard in the embedded video along with an interview of the composer.  Special thanks to Stewart Searle for creating this beautiful video.

We musicians especially delighted in combining things new and old, East and West.  Mark’s work touched on all of these elements.  It was fascinating to juxtapose a French baroque setting of the same text as the new work.  The medieval works were especially interesting for the performers and audience members alike thanks to some masterful settings of vivid ancient texts.

All parties came away from the experience musically satisfied and eager to further explore new music on old instruments.


More Updates ▼


We are pleased to announce that composer Mark Nowakowski has completed Sub Tuum Praesidium and performances have been set for the first weekend in February.

Three Notch’d Road will present Flower of Paradise: Music Inspired by the Virgin Mary on Friday, February 3, 2017 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton and Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 7:30pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ivy.

This program with three guest sopranos includes a world premier by composer Mark Nowakowski and Marian songs from medieval, renaissance, and baroque Europe.

Visit www.tnrbaroque.org to purchase tickets for these performances.

Composition Update

Composer Mark Nowakowski, inspired by the instrumentation of three sopranos and period string instruments, has changed the theme of his composition.  Three Notch’d Road is excited to perform Sub Tuum Praesidium, a setting of the earliest known Marian prayer.  The performance will include a number of other compositions inspired by the Virgin Mary from medieval, renaissance, and baroque Europe.

Three Notch’d Road eagerly awaits Mark’s newly composed work and is thrilled to offer this unique concert experience to our Charlottesville and Staunton audiences.

Concert Dates Announced!

Three Notch’d Road is pleased to announce the official concert dates for this project:

Flower of Paradise: Music Inspired by the Virgin Mary

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 7:30pm
Trinity Episcopal Church (Staunton VA)

Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Ivy (Charlottesville, VA)


Purchase tickets at www.tnrbaroque.org


Three Notch’d Road is at the perfect moment to introduce our audience to the concept of new music on old instruments.  Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, well-conceived American invention would make our founding father Thomas Jefferson proud.  Our historic instruments (gut strings, recorders) have a unique warmth of timbre that should be part of a living tradition.  As early music practitioners intentionally imitate the human voice, we are eager to work with composer Mark Nowakowski in the tradition of sacred music.


The work we are commissioning from Mark will be a setting of the famous “Quo Vadis” legend as presented towards the end of the novel of the same name, by Nobel Prize winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz. The 10-15 minute work will be scored for three sopranos, two baroque violins, viola da gamba, portative organ, and theorbo (a long-necked sibling of the lute).


This composition will receive its premiere in February 2017 as part of the Three Notch’d Road subscription series of concerts, with performances in both Charlottesville and Staunton, Virginia.  Though dates and venues are still being confirmed, we typically perform in some of the most iconic churches in our area, including historic Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia. We also anticipate that there will be additional performance opportunities in future seasons, and we have tentative plans to do a studio recording of the work for the purpose of a proposed commercial CD release. Our live performance will also be video recorded and posted publicly.


For the live performances in February, we will be working with sopranos Elena Mullins, Sian Ricketts, and Tracy Cowart. All three artists have appeared with Three Notch’d Road in past seasons and collaborate frequently with TNR co-director David McCormick in the medieval ensemble Alkemie. This live performance will pair the Quo Vadis setting with medieval, renaissance, baroque, and contemporary works that complement the newly composed work. The Latin phrase “Quo vadis?” translates to “Where are you going?”, a theme that will permeate the rest of our diverse concert program. We aim to take our audience on a journey through both new and old styles, exploring the many tonal possibilities of our early instruments and voices.

Project Media

Fragments: a Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Movement 3)
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Features: Mark Nowakowski

A fiery moment from Mark Nowakowski’s violin concerto
Emily Ondracek-Peterson, Violinist.

Application Video: why new music for old instruments?
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Fiona Hughes, an Artistic Director of Three Notch’d Road, explains why Charlottesville, Thomas Jefferson, sacred music, baroque instruments, and Mark Nowakowski go together.

Start and End Dates



Charlottesville, Virginia

4 updates
Last update on March 25, 2017

Project Created By

Charlottesville, Virginia
Named for a colonial route that once spanned much of central Virginia, Three Notch’d Road: The Charlottesville Baroque Ensemble was founded in 2011 by local period-instrument specialists David McCormick (baroque violin), Fiona Hughes (baroque violin), and Anne Timberlake (recorder). As Central Virginia’s only professional ensemble providing a full season of exceptional baroque music on period…

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