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 focused on presenting cutting-edge programs about issues at the forefront of contemporary thought. Inspired by the environmental reform that occurred after the Cuyahoga River burned, they throw open the doors of the concert hall to all by performing in diverse venues and offering most concerts for free. From rural churches and libraries to urban warehouses and everywhere in between, they make regular appearances across Ohio and bring the drama, passion, and vitality of baroque music to life for diverse audiences. Each year they further fuse together the past and present by commissioning a new composition to create programming that is fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences. With each new season they further their intention of presenting programs that use classical music to reframe and engage with current reality, rather than using it as a privileged escape from current events.
Core members are Malina Rauschenfels, a Juilliard-educated multi-instrumentalist and composer, and Dr. Paula Maust, a CIM and Peabody-trained harpsichordist, organist, and scholar. Since its formation in 2012, Burning River Baroque has put on an average of 15-20 concerts each season. Last season’s concerts, “Destructive Desires” and “The Other Side of the Story,” addressed issues raised by the #MeToo Movement. The 2019-2020 season focuses on unconventional 17th-century women and includes “A Mad, Burning Desire” and “Witches: Revered and Reviled.” Each year they form partnerships with local organizations whose missions align with their concert programming. This year’s collaborations will include Bard High School Early College, songwriting workshops at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center, and a concert at the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick.
photo by Alex Belisle