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Witches: Revered & Reviled


Prelude for the Witches (from Dido & Aeneas)

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Echo Dance of Furies (from Dido & Aeneas)

Saul and the Witch of Endor

La Circe

Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682)

Furies’ Dance (from Psyche)

 Matthew Locke (c. 1621-1677)

Dance of Furies (from Dioclesian)

Henry Purcell

Furies (from Ouverture-Suite in D)

George Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)

The Ballad of Mary and Margaret, A Spiritualist Opera (premiere)

Alexis Bacon (b. 1975)

Program Notes


"Stigmatizing those perceived as being different is a theme that has regrettably been almost constant across human history. “Witches: Revered & Reviled” delves into early modern society’s desire for an ordered society, a trend that frequently led to the persecution of individuals accused of straying outside the established conventional boundaries. While both men and women were accused of social deviance, the vast majority of those who were criminalized for thwarting societal expectations were lower-class women. Often deemed witches, these disorderly women were corporally punished and executed at alarming rates across the early modern period. 


    Precisely what it meant to be a witch in early modern Europe was complex; people in various regions and social classes defined witchcraft in a variety of ways, and the moral panic associated with witchcraft was manifested differently across the region. Although the Christian church had been concerned about heresy since the middle ages, witchcraft was not considered to be a religious crime until the 15th century. Convinced that a new heresy had arisen consisting of people promising their souls to the Devil, theologians began to condemn witches as heretics, a practice that led to the execution of thousands of individuals from 1400-1750. Of all the various types of witches encountered in early modern Europe, the demonic witch in conspiracy with the Devil was thought to be the most dangerous — she flew to the sabbat, had promiscuous sex with the Devil, danced naked, and ate babies and children. 


    Less evil, but still dangerous, was the village witch. Village witchcraft was not a large-scale threat, but rather individual malice that occurred between feuding neighbors. Peasants toiled over their farms, health, and families, and when inexplicable misfortune befell them, a witch was often blamed. Most often the accused witch was the stereotypical quarrelsome older woman. Those executed for witchcraft were believed to have committed horrific crimes against god and/or their neighbors.


    Despite this overwhelming and gruesome compulsion to seek out those who were supposedly out of order, women ascribed with supernatural abilities were often viewed as powerful healers, and sorceresses were believed to have fantastical capabilities that could be used for good. Today’s program opens with works by Henry Purcell that highlight this paradox of reverence and repulsion for unconventional women. Most likely inspired by early modern society’s fascination with the supernatural, Purcell included prominent roles for two witches and a sorceress in his opera Dido and Aeneas. These three cunning women are ascribed the powerful role of misleading Aeneas, actions that result in tragedy. The Witch of Endor is a controversial figure found in 1 Samuel 28. After King Saul unsuccessfully attempts to consult God through prayer, sacred lots, and the prophets, he consults the witch to summon the spirit of the prophet Samuel for advice against beating the Philistines in battle. In the story, the witch appears to perform an act of magic or necromancy, which later Christian theologians found to be problematic.


    Revered for her fantastical abilities to transform her enemies into animals, the mythological sorceress Circe was often portrayed in early modern art as the archetype of a predatory, sexually free woman. As with the Witch of Endor, whose reception was entangled with cultural expectations for a woman’s appropriate behavior, opinions of Circe vacillated between respected magician and dangerous vixen. Alessandro Stradella’s substantial serenata not only depicts Circe’s story, but it also sheds light on the life of the Florentine Princess Olimpia Aldobrandini. Princess Aldobrandini commissioned Stradella to compose the piece to be performed at a lavish party at her villa in the Frascati Hills to celebrate Leopold de’ Medici’s appointment as a cardinal. The librettist Giovan Filippo Apolloni wove together aspects of the mythological story and early modern Italian culture to create a text that both honored the new Medici cardinal and provided a source of rich musical entertainment for the guests.


    The three Furies, or infernal goddesses, featured prominently in numerous early modern operas. According to some mythological sources, they sprang forth from the spilled blood of Uranus when he was castrated by his son Cronus. These crones are Alecto, the punisher of moral crimes; Megaera, the punisher of infidelity, oath breakers, and theft; and Tisiphone, the punisher of murderers. Dramatic scenes involving the Furies are often accompanied by intense, virtuosic instrumental dances.


    Today’s performance concludes with the premiere of a newly-commissioned work by Alexis Bacon. This dramatization tells the story of Mary Todd Lincoln’s visit to the infamous spiritualist medium Margaretta Fox in February 1872. Although she tried to be discreet about seeing Margaretta, the details of Mary’s visit were leaked to the Boston Herald, and her youngest son soon thereafter had her institutionalized. Margaretta and her sisters were early leaders in Spiritualism, a religion whose practitioners claimed to be able to contact the dead by means of spirit rappings. Desperate to contact dead loved ones, Spiritualism reached the height of its fame during the Civil War era, and Margaretta and her sisters went on numerous tours to conduct séances for large sums of money. Falling from favor in the 1880s, Margaretta was ultimately denounced by spiritualists and non-believers alike. As Bacon writes, “Though both Mary and Margaret were perhaps less than heroic figures, they were both early actors in movements that eventually shaped the nation for the better, as the Spiritualism movement was closely tied to both abolitionism and women’s rights. Perhaps even more than her husband, Mary was a fierce advocate for the abolition of slavery, and the Fox sisters were religious leaders and independent earners, rare for women of the time.” 


    From our 21st-century perspective, it might seem easy to look back at the early modern witch hunts in horror. How could people have really believed that women were flying to secret meetings with the Devil or that the death of one’s cow must have been caused by the disgruntled spinster living down the road? Moreover, how could these seemingly nonsensical beliefs have resulted in the torture and executions of more than 40,000 women? Although the consequences might be less noticeable on a grand scale, societies in every age have chosen specific groups of people to marginalize for various reasons. In three hundred years, what will historians write about our actions toward the impoverished, people with disabilities, those whose gender or sexuality does not align with our expectations, immigrants, or those of a different race? Will they show that we were compassionate, or will they reveal that we participated in so-called witch hunts of our own?"


~Paula Maust, 2020

Burning River Baroque is committed to providing excellent experiences, engaging the broadest possible audiences, and breaking down barriers to participation. Specific accommodations are listed for each program; requests for other professional services should be made at least two weeks in advance. For all questions, contact:

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In Guilty Night


In guilty night, and hid in false disguise,

Forsaken Saul to Endor comes and cries:



Woman, arise, call powerful arts together,

And raise the ghost, whom I shall name, up hither. 



Why should’st thou wish me die? Forbear my son,

Dost thou not know what cruel Saul has done?

How he has killed, has killed and murdered all

That were wise and could on spirits call?



Woman, be bold, do but the thing I wish,

No harm from Saul shall come to thee for this.



Whom shall I raise or call? I’ll make him hear.



Old Samuel, let only him appear!






What, what dost thou fear?



Nought else but thee,

For thou art Saul, alas! and hast beguiled me.



Peace, and go on, what seest thou? let me know.



I see the gods ascending from below.



Who’s he that comes?



An old man mantled o’er.



Oh! that is he, let me that ghost adore.Samuel:

Why hast thou robbed me of my rest to see

That which I hate? this wicked world and thee?



Oh! I’m sore distressed, vexed sore;

God has left me and answers me no more;

Distressed with war, with inward terrors too,

For pity’s sake tell me, what shall I do?



Art thou forlorn of God and com’st to me?

What can I tell thee then but misery?

This kingdom’s gone into thy neighbour’s race,

Thine host shall fall by sword before thy face.

Tomorrow then, till then farewell and breathe:

Thou and thy son tomorrow shall be with me beneath.



Farewell, oh! farewell.

La Circe translation cc Marty Morell 2020


Se desio curioso il cor vi ingombra 

del mio natal, figlia d’Apollo io sono: 

fui maga, di Sarmazia ascesi al trono, 

il nome è Circe e or di lei son l’ombra. 

Dall’elisie contrade ove soggiorno 

Telegono mio figlio, emolo al sole, 

che fu d’Ulisse e paricida e prole. 

qui mi richiama a rivedere il giorno. 

Qui, per dare a se stesso e regno e tomba, 

di Tusdeale fondò le mura altère, 

qui riposan di lui l’ossa guerriere, 

qui grido eterno al nome suo rimbomba. 

Ma quale in queste arene 

disusato fulgor, Circe, rimiri? 

qual dagl’eterei giri 

ad illustrar sen viene 

il tusculano suol luce novella? 

Algido, Algido! 



Chi m’appella? O mia regina, 

e come in queste rive? 


Qui benché morto vive 

di Telegono il nome, e qui ben spesso

di contemplar m’appago 

del mio gran genitor la viva imago. 

Ma veggio altri stupori 

in questo angusto giro 

e del figlio e del sol vinti rimiro 

da porporato eroe gl’alti splendori. 


Ben han giusta cagion anco gl’Elisi, 

o del gran re del giorno inclita figlia, 

per inarcar le ciglia: 

questo che qui ravisi 

con pregi sì ammirandi 

è la norma de’ grandi, 

è dell’etrusco ciel luce più chiara, 

del mediceo tesor gemma più rara.


O de’ regi alto germoglio 

ch’ai trionfi hai il varco aperto, 

al tuo nome, al tuo gran merto, 

solo il cielo è Campidoglio.

Per volar di gloria al soglio 

di virtù calchi il sentiero, 

domi il senso lusinghiero, 

dell’oblio vinci l’orgoglio, 

o de’ regi alto germoglio! 

ZEFFIRO (dentro subito)

O de’ regi alto germoglio! 


Chi parla? chi risponde? 

Mentr’ io, Niobe novella, 

mirando in queste sponde 

l’esempio degl’eroi, pietra divento? 


Vento ...



Vento? Forse Aquilone 

di proine foriero, 

forse Volturno altèro, 

o quel ch’in queste spiagge 

con placido spirar l’alma ristaura? 


Aura ... 


Dunque Zeffiro sei, 

ch’alla stagion fiorita 

fai con aura gradita 

ridere il prato e mormorare il rio? 


Io ... (Zeffiro esce fora) 

Io, che lieto trascorro

tutti i campi di Flora, 

dovrò sol dell’aurora 

dar susurro agl’albori e moto al plaustro? 

Io, che di Noto e d’Austro 

so mitigar lo sdegno, 

non saprò su’ miei vanni alzar la fama 

del glorioso eroe da regno a regno? 

Circe, gl’encomi tuoi, 

Algido, le tue fonti 

non son lingue bastanti 

del gran Leopoldo a celebrare i vanti. 

Io, spedito e leggiero, 

dalla zona più calda al polo algente, 

volarò di repente 

agl’Indi, agl’Afri, all’universo intero. 

Io darò co’ miei fiati e voce e spirto 

alle penne, alle trombe, 

svegliarò dalle tombe 

i Maroni e gl’Omeri 

e, scrivendo nel tempio 

dell’immortalità suoi gesti egregi, 

farò ch’a tutti i regi 

solo il nome di lui serva d’esempio. 



Vola, Zeffiro, vola, vola 

dall’Atlantico seno al Gange d’oro, 

ché di maggior tesoro 

apportator giammai, 

Zeffiro, non sarai! 

All’uom saggio 

solo un raggio 

di virtù l’alma consola. 

Vola, Zeffiro, vola, vola! 



Chi stupori cercando va 

qui s’arresti né brami più, 

ché risiede bella virtù 

sovr’ un trono di maestà. 

Ma de’ gemini lumi 

ond’ egli è sì chiaro 

o, quanto è più raro 

l’innocente candor de’ suoi costumi! 

Sì, sì, questa è virtù ch’al mondo è sola: 

vola, Zeffiro, vola, vola! 



Correrò, volarò, 

e, s’il cielo m’arride, 

oltre i confin d’Alcide 

il volo spiegarò.

Sì, sì, con l’oblio 

già rotta è la tregua, 

s’appaghi, si segua 

sì nobil desio! 

Circe, rimanti in pace; Algido, addio! 



Ferma, Zeffiro, ferma 

le fuggitive piante! 

Troppo senza di te, troppo si stanca 

chi qua rivolga peregrino il piede, 

e, per far immortal chi già possiede 

fama d’eternità, tempo non manca. 

Sì, sì, Zeffiro, attendi 

e, pria di sciorre il volo 

all’uno e all’altro polo, 

sia faconda la destra, il labro muto: 

ché ben merta tributo 

quel nume che per ora 

tra noi risplende, e queste rive onora. 



Regina, il ver tu parli: 

ma quai doni offrir ponno, 

che da ciglio linceo non sian derisi 












Timor troppo scoperto, 

amici, il cor m’ingombra: 

qual tributo può dargli eguale al merto 

un flume, 



un vento, 






Io spogliarò di gemme 

le più ricche maremme. 



Io, scorrendo in brev’ ora un lungo giro, 

torrò l’arene al Tago e gl’ostri a Tiro. 



No, ch’abbastanza al peregrino eroe, 

già di glorie tutt’ ebro, 

porge l’Arno tesori ed ostri il Tebro! 



Ogni vasto desio 

campestre albergo opprime: 

troppo [nudo/angusto] son io, 

troppo il merto è sublime, 



Se d’angusta campagna, 

se di picciol torrente i fiori e l’onde

scarsi tributi sono, 

l’intento si gradisce e non il dono. 



Su, su, Ninfe dell’acque, 

voi che d’Algido in seno 

tra le fonti più chiare albergo avete, 

adunate, stringete 

i più limpidi argenti, e in un baleno 

di Tusculo alle valli, 

trasformato in cristalli, 

un rio sen vole, e con nuovo costume 

sian carboni l’arene, 

l’onde metalli, ed alchimista un fiume. 


Chi di voi mi porta a volo 

dove il sol miniere indora, 

ond’ io possa per brev’ ora 

trasformarmi in un pattolo? 

Poiché sol tra questi allori 

consistono in delizie i miei tesori. 

S’una limpida corrente 

è ricchezza oppur virtù, 

non invidio alcun torrente 

dell’impero del Perù. 

A gran prove Algido corre, 

ma, se manca natura, arte soccorre. 


Queste di fragil tempra, 

lievi proli e caduche, alto signore, 

umìle a voi consacro: 

di vetro è il dono, e di diamante il core. 



Ed io che farò? 

Auretta vagante, 

i vanni, le piante, 

a cui volgerò? 


Può ben divoto cor 

con fida servitù 

di sovrano favor 

farsi capace. 

Alma che grazie spande    

tanto è benigna più 

quanto è più grande; 

ma pretender parità 

è chimera e vanità. 


Un colorito april, 

tolto agl’orti di Flora,      

a prence sì gentil 

serva d’omaggio.

Anco i fiori del prato 

mostran fido servaggio, 

animo grato; 

ma pretender parità 

è chimera e vanità. 


Su, su, dunque, su, su, Zeffiri alati, 

dell’odorosa prole 

impoverite i prati, 

e per cinger di fiori 

tempie sì gloriose, 

vengan clizie e viole,

tulipani, amaranti e gigli e rose.  

Queste Zeffiro porge alle tue piante, 

innocenti rapine. 

Tu d’un’aura volante 

gradisci i furti, e ne circonda il crine. 

Ma pria t’accerta, o sire, 

che quella primavera 

che sa fingere i fior l’alma ha sincera. 



Ed è pur ver ch’io sola 

offrir non posso ad un eroe sì prode 

che tributi di lode? 

Fu dell’angustie mie 

la nudità presaga, 

ma, sebben ombra, son regina e maga. 


O degl’eterni Elisi 

lieti spirti, ombre pure, alme beate, 

voi ch’ all’ombra posate 

de’ fortunati allori 

e di perpetui fiori, 

primavera immortal sempre godete, 

porgete a me, porgete 

de’ nostri campi un distillato aprile, 

ond’ io qual serva umìle, 

giacché non posso i fiori 

dagl’Elisi involar, porti gl’odori! 

So che chi nacque al regno 

sol di corone è degno: 

ma con prodiga mano, 

prencipe generoso, 

quelle il ciel ti riserba in Vaticano. 



Ruscelletti, che traete 

dalle sponde puri argenti 

per tributo al re dell’onde, 

rispondete ai nostri accenti,

e con lieto mormorio

dite: ‘Manca il poter, non il desio!’


Deh, gradisci, eroe sovrano,

ciò ch’ardio


un fiato, un’ alma, un rio,

e poiché lontano

da Tusculo parti,

noi taceremo, e intanto

seguiranno le Muse il nostro canto.


Should curiosity about my origin burden your heart, I am the daughter of Apollo:

A sorceress was I, I ascended the Sarmatian throne,

My name is Circe, and I am now her shade.

From my abode in the Elysian Fields,

My son Telegonus, like unto the sun,

Who was both offspring and murderer of Ulysses,

Has summoned me to behold again the light of day.

Here, to give himself both kingdom and tomb, 

He erected the noble walls of Tusdeale.

Here rest his warrior’s bones,

Here does his fame resound eternally.

But what strange blazing rays, Circe, 

Do you perceive amidst these sands?

What new light has descended 

From the bright realms

To illuminate the Tusculan earth?

Algido, Algido!



Who summons me?  O my queen,

How came you to these shores?



Though Telegonus is dead,

His name lives on, and often indeed

I am content to contemplate

The vivid image of my great father.

But I see yet other marvelous things

In this narrow realm,

And I behold the noble splendor of son and sun

Conquered by the crimson-robed hero.



It is indeed with reason,

O renowned daughter of the great king of the day,

That the Elysians do arch their brows.

For what you behold here,

Of such admired worth,

Is the mark of great ones:

’Tis the clearest light of the Etruscan sky,

The rarest gem of Medicean treasure.



O noble offspring of kings,

Whose path to triumphs lies open,

By virtue of your name, your great merit,

Heaven alone is your seat of government. 

To fly to the threshold of glory,

Tread the path of virtue,

Tame the flattering senses,

Conquer the pride of oblivion,

O noble offspring of kings!


ZEPHYRUS (from within, suddenly)

O noble offspring of kings!



Who speaks? Who answers?

While I, a new Niobe,

Contemplating on these shores

The example of heroes, become as stone [divento]?



The wind [vento] ...



Wind?  Are you perhaps Aquilo,

Harbinger of hoarfrost,

Or proud Vulturnus,

Or he who, upon these shores,

With his soft breath the soul restores [ristaura]?



A breeze [aura] ...



Then you are Zephyrus,

Who, in the season of flowers,

With welcome breezes, creates

Laughing meadows and murmuring brooks? [rio]



I [io] ... (comes forth)

I, who gaily traverse

All the fields of Flora,

Must I alone give the rustle of the dawn 

To the trees, and movement to the heavenly chariot?

I, who am able to appease

The wrath of Notus and Auster,

Would I not also be able, on my wings, to vaunt 

From realm to realm the fame of the glorious hero?

Circe, your praises,

Algido, your waters,

Have not eloquence enough

To celebrate the prowess of great Leopold.

I, swift and light,

From the hottest realm to the frigid pole, 

Shall fly in haste

To the Indies, to Africa, to the whole universe.

With my breath I shall give voice and spirit

To the pens, to the trumpets;

I shall awaken from their tombs

The Virgils and the Homers,

And, writing his outstanding deeds

In the temple of immortality,

I shall ensure that the mere mention of his name

Shall serve as an example to all kings.



Fly, Zephyrus, fly, fly,

From the Atlantic’s bosom to the golden Ganges,

For never, Zephyrus, 

Shall you be the bearer

Of greater treasure!

For a wise man

But a single ray of virtue

Is consolation to the soul.

Fly, Zephyrus, fly, fly!



Let he who seeks for marvels

Stop here, and wish for them no longer,

For here fair virtue resides

On a majestic throne.

But oh, how much rarer

Than the twin lights of his eyes,

So clearly shining,

Is the innocent candor of his habits!

Yes, yes, this is virtue unique to the world:

Fly, Zephyrus, fly, fly!



I will hasten, I will fly,

And if heaven smile upon me,

I shall extend my flight

Beyond the bounds of Hercules.

Yes, yes, the truce

With oblivion has been broken,

Let so noble a desire

Be fulfilled and come to pass!

Circe, peace upon you; Algido, farewell!



Stay, Zephyrus, stay

Your fleeting steps!

Without you, any pilgrim who chances 

Upon this spot would be over-wearied, 

And time is not lacking to immortalize 

One who already holds eternal fame.

Yes, yes, Zephyrus, wait,

And, ere taking flight

To one and the other pole,

Let your right hand be eloquent, your lips silent:

For deserving indeed of praise

Is that deity who at present

Shines among us and honors these shores.



My queen, you speak truth:

But what gifts that his learnèd brow 

Would not deride, could be offered



By the waves?



the air?


the Elysian Fields?



My friends, my heart is burdened

With a fear I must needs reveal:

What tribute worthy of his merit can be given

By a river?



a wind?


a shade?


I’ll snatch precious gems

From the richest seashores.


I, travelling far and wide in a short space of time,

Will take golden sand from the Tagus and crimson dye from Tyre.



No, for upon our roaming hero,

Already replete with glory,

The Arno bestows much treasure, and the Tiber its crimson robes!



This rural abode thwarts

Every expansive desire:

Too [naked/straitened]  am I,

Too sublime is his merit.



Though flowers from this scanty countryside,

Or waves from a little brook

Are but meager tribute,

’Tis the intent that is appreciated, not the gift.



Up then, ye water nymphs,

Ye who dwell in the bosom of Algido, 

’Midst clearest fountains,

Come together and grasp

The most limpid silver strands, and in an instant,

From Tusculum to the valleys,

Transformed into crystals, 

Let them be a river, and in new guise

Let the sand be coal,

The waves metals, and the river an alchemist.


Who amongst you will fly me

To where the sun shines its light upon mines,

Where I for a brief time

May be transformed into golden Pactolus?

For only here, among these laurels,

Do I take delight in my treasures.

If a limpid stream

Is wealth or virtue,

I envy not a single torrent

Of the empire of Peru.

Algido hastens to great undertakings,

But, if nature is wanting, art will aid him.


These fragile objects,

My tender, ephemeral offspring, noble lord,

Do I humbly consecrate to you:

The gift is of glass, but my heart is of diamond.



And what shall I do?

An errant little breeze,

My wings, my feet,

To whom shall I turn?


A devoted heart can indeed,

By faithful servitude,

Render itself capable 

Of supreme favor.

The soul that bestows favors

Is the more benevolent

The greater it is;

But to assume equality

Is but vanity, a chimera.


Let a bright April flower,

Plucked from Flora’s gardens,

Serve as tribute

To so noble a prince.

Even the flowers of the field

Show loyal fealty, 

And grateful spirit;

But to assume equality

Is but vanity, a chimera.


Up, up then, wingèd Zephyri,

Strip the meadows

Of their fragrant offspring,

And to bedeck with flowers

So glorious a brow,

Let there be heliotropes and violets,

Tulips, amaranths, lilies and roses.

These Zephyrus places before your feet,

Innocent plunder.

Sire, be pleased with the spoils of a passing breeze,

And may they adorn your hair.

But first be assured

That the springtime that can conjure up flowers 

Has a sincere soul.



And can it be true that I alone

Can offer nothing to such a valorous hero

Save tributes of praise?

As a mere spirit, my abilities

Are straitened,

But, though a shade, I am queen and sorceress.


Oh, happy spirits of the eternal 

Elysian Fields, pure shades, blessèd souls,

Ye who rest in the shadows

Of fortunate laurels

And perpetual flowers

Forever enjoying an eternal springtime,

Offer then, offer unto me

A distillation of April in our meadows,

So that I, a humble servant, who cannot 

Steal flowers from the Elysian Fields,

May still bear their fragrance.

I know that he who is born to rule

Is worthy of no less than crowns,

But with a prodigal hand,

Generous prince, heaven reserves 

Those crowns for you in the Vatican.



Ye gentle brooks, who bring 

Pure silver from the shores

As tribute to the king of the waves,

Reply to our strains,

And with cheerful murmuring,

Say, “’Tis power that we lack, not desire!”


Ah, deign to accept, sovereign hero,

That which boldly 

A breath, a soul, a river

Offer you in tribute,

And since you depart 

Far from Tusculum,

We shall be silent,

While the Muses continue our song.

The Ballard of Mary and Margaret:

A Spiritualist Opera 

Margaret: Mrs. Lin…der.

Mary: Yes, I am Mrs. Linder.

Margaret: I am happy that you came.

Mary: Miss Fox.

Margaret: Please, call me Margaret.

Mary: And Mary is my name.

Margaret: I know this is not your first foray into 

contacting the higher planes.

Mary: I have had many losses.

Margaret: Tell me whom you wish to reach.

Mary: So many losses. My husband. Three sons. 

How do I remain alive?

Margaret: The spirits will your soul revive.

The spirits will speak to you through rappings, 

tappings, and other manifestations.

One knock will signify yes, and two will signify no.

Shall we begin?

Mary: I have been longing for this day.

Margaret: Let us commence without delay.

Margaret: I sense a charge in the ether.

The spirit presence is strong today.

Spirit - are you there?

Spirit - are you there?


Spirit: Joined up soon as I could carry

Hungry for a bit of glory

Marching off to fight Abe’s war, he

Swayed us with his oratory…

Marching on, marching on, marching on… 

Mary: He is not one of mine.

Spirit: Off we marched to Harpers Ferry

Shots were fired by the hundreds

Somehow yet we still outlasted

As fires burned and canons blasted…

But I never lived to tell my story

My bones are in the cemetery…

My soul cannot find union

Mary: We saved the Union.

Spirit: Now my spirit’s far from rested

Starved and wounded, left to fester

All my comrades have been bested

Never had a single friend

To tell my mother, tell my sister…

Mary: It wasn’t only you! I also lost my sons!

Spirit and Margaret: Your sons never took up arms…

Mary: I consoled the dying soldiers, I nursed their wounds…

Spirit and Margaret: You spent the nation’s wealth 

on frippery and flub-dubs…

Margaret: You know who I am. I do not trust your sorcery!

Margaret: It is not I, it is the great mystery!

Margaret: Let us pause and reassess.

There are still other spirits still here with us.

I ask this spirit to leave and a more familiar 

spirit to come forward.

Your sons… they are here and wish to speak… 

they wrap you in their glowing light and they 

surround you with their luminous essence…

Spirit: How dare you claim to speak for me?

Margaret: I am but the messenger.

Spirit: Your art’s infernal, not divine

Stupefied with booze and wine

Manipulating public view

Perverting what is good and true


Margaret:  Sent away at fourteen years

Never had a home or child

Giving souls some hope and peace

Why then am I so reviled?

Spirit: Epitome of want and greed

Exploiting better peoples’ needs

The skills of women are profane

When bartered for such earthly gain

Margaret and Spirit: Like the harlot in the brothel,

Twisting truths and causing trouble

All 3 together:

While the nation falls to rubble

They said I didn’t know my place

That I overstepped my bounds

Mary: My three dead sons were all I had

Margaret: My work has brought both fortune

And notoriety

Mary: My fourth, alive, believes me mad

Margaret: When we can’t control our fortunes

We make our own destiny

Mary: The doctors gave me laudanum, 

my shrieks they couldn’t abide

Margaret: Claiming to make contact, while my

soul is weak inside

Mary: Begging for my pension, I get no redress,

Margaret: The choices were all made for me, the 

visions I just guessed

Spirit, Margaret, and Mary together:

Corruption of the natural order

Perversion of good and pure

Spirit: Our nation’s turmoil may abate

But in the bottle you’ll meet YOUR fate!

Spirit: Downtrodden as I am, I’m a free white man

This nation was made for ME and so it shall remain

Margaret: Spirit, leave us be!

Mary: We need not ask the dead

To know this union is stained with blood

Margaret: A house divided cannot stand

Mary: But a cracked foundation must be razed

Margaret: Or incinerate in a fiery blaze

Margaret: Mrs. Linder… I am sorry for what came

Mary: Miss Fox - it is no worse than what I live with every day.

Margaret: My sisters - they will keep marching on - perhaps, we may

Mary: Please, your silence, I pray

My part is done, I only long for peace

Margaret: Soon may you find your release.



Praised by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as a group that “left an indelible imprint on my psyche,” Cleveland-based Burning River Baroque brings diverse communities together through vibrant musical performances that inspire engaging dialogues and meaningful social change. Inspired by the tremendous environmental reform that occurred after the Cuyahoga River burned, they strive to engage listeners of all ages and walks of life by offering most concerts for free or by donation and by performing in both traditional and non-traditional venues. From urban churches and coffeehouses to rural libraries and everywhere in between, they bring the drama and vitality of Baroque music to life for contemporary audiences by demonstrating the profound connections between issues in the baroque era and those of modern times. Additionally, they commission a new composition each season to further fuse together ideas of the past and present in a way that feels fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences. Since its formation in 2012, Burning River Baroque has put on 15-20 concerts each season.



Malina Rauschenfels, voice & violin

Juilliard-educated Malina Rauschenfels is a vocalist, cellist and baroque violinist. Praised by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as “spellbinding” and for her “powerful clarion tones and crisp articulation,” she has also been commended by Cleveland Classical: “Her ability to turn notation on a page into fully realized human emotion was a feat of the imagination.” Equally comfortable with early music and contemporary music, she has been featured in recordings with The Newberry Consort, Duo Mignarda, Quire Cleveland, Marble Sanctuary Choir and Toby Twining Music. Additionally, she performs with El Fuego Early Music Ensemble, Crescendo, and Trinity Chamber Singers, and recently won the Waterloo Region Contemporary Music Sessions’ Contemporary Performance Prize for performing two pieces for singing cellist. In the last year she has mentored emerging musicians and performed at WRCMS in Waterloo, Canada and Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico. While completing her Master’s in Cello Performance at Juilliard, Malina performed Davidovsky’s Divertimento for Cello and Orchestra with the Juilliard Orchestra under Reinbert de Leeuw and also played a solo recital in Carnegie’s Weill Hall. She majored in Composition and Cello at Eastman School of Music. Malina loves to work in interdisciplinary contexts, incorporating gesture and theatricality into musical performance and working with creators in different art areas. Connecting all work to present day situations, and her life in particular, is of the utmost importance to make the performance come alive for the audience.


Paula Maust, harpsichord

Praised as “a refined and elegant performer” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, harpsichordist and organist Dr. Paula Maust performs extensively as a soloist and chamber musician across North America. She is a co-director of both Burning River Baroque and Musica Spira and is dedicated to edgy concert programming that connects baroque music to current social issues such as the #MeToo movement, women’s empowerment, and climate change. Other recent collaborations include performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tempesta di Mare, the Washington Bach Consort, Modern Musick, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Third Practice, and the Folger Consort. An advocate for conducting dramatic early modern works from the keyboard, she is also working on a project to present twenty-first century recreations of baroque operas that have not been performed since their premieres. Paula has been a faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County since 2016 where she teaches harpsichord, organ, music theory, keyboard skills, and music history courses. She also teaches music theory and aural skills at the Johns Hopkins University. Paula recently completed a doctorate degree in harpsichord at Peabody, where she was the recipient of the Dean’s DMA fellowship. Committed to both performance and scholarship, her primary research areas include the reception history of 17th-century female professional musicians and early modern society’s fascination with unconventional women. She recently presented “Turning the Madwoman Upside Down” at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and “The Ugly Virtuosa” at UMBC and the George Peabody Library. More info can be found at


Kristine Caswelch, soprano

Soprano Kristine Caswelch is a local Cleveland musician who has been creating a name for herself as a soloist and ensemble singer within the early and contemporary music scenes. Interested in using performance as a tool to have conversations around gender and race, 

Kristine took part in a recent collaboration with local tenor Matt Jones to create a program for Cleveland’s ‘Big Reads’, composed of predominantly African American female composers as a response Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. 


During the summer Kristine has regularly participated in the WCC Summer Choral Festival, and has been a featured soprano soloist. Recent summer programs have included the Ensemble Singing Intensive at the Amherst Early Music Festival. In 2015 Kristine walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain, where she shared her love of music with fellow pilgrims and locals by singing in the various churches and cathedrals. From 2016-2018 Kristine served as the founding Artistic Director of Cleveland Transgender Choir, the first group of its kind in the area. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Music and Art at Trinity Cathedral.


William Marshall, baritone

Known for his full and lyric baritone, William Marshall is passionate about the study and vocal performance of Renaissance and Baroque repertoires. In addition to acting as a specialist in the field of early music, he also performs traditional operatic and art song repertoire. His recent career highlights include the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers as part of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Bach Festival, Early Music America’s Young Performers Festival with The Baltimore Bach Ensemble, and the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco. William has portrayed opera roles such as Belcore

in L’elisir d’amore, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Papageno in The Magic Flute. On the concert stage he has been a featured soloist for Bach’s Mass in b minor, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana among others.

William Marshall holds a Master of Music degree in Historical Performance from the Peabody Conservatory and Bachelors degree in Music Education from Rowan University.


Sarah Elizabeth Cranor, violin

Violinist Sarah Elizabeth Cranor is passionate about the freedom of sonic possibilities found in both historical and contemporary music. She currently directs Tonos del Sur at Indiana University, which explores the intersection of European music with the colonization of the New World, and is acting Concertmaster and Principal Second Violin with the Midland-Odessa Symphony & Chorale.  Sarah recently recorded for NAXOS with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, was co-director for a production of La Púrpura de la Rosa with Nell Snaidas, and recorded the premiere of Kurt Vonnegut’s Requiem with Voces Novae. Recent and upcoming collaborations include Tono del Sur at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, a recital of music of Clara Schumann with Byron Schenkman, the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, Burning River Baroque, the Zenith Ensemble, Sphere Ensemble, a Midwest tour of the St. Matthew Passion with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra and Valaparasio University, the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, Bourbon Baroque, Alchymy Viols, Chatham Baroque, ¡Canta, Bogotá, Canta!, the Michigan Bach Collective, the Princeton Festival, concertmaster of the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble, and Sun Sneeze New Music. Sarah is finishing a Doctor of Music degree at the Jacobs School of Music with Stanley Ritchie and Grigory Kalinovsky. When she is not holding a violin, she enjoys running marathons and fishing for trout!

Stephanie Zimmerman, violin & viola

Stephanie Zimmerman is a baroque violinist and violist based in Baltimore, Maryland. In this capacity, she performs with the Washington Bach Consort, Tempesta di Mare, the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, Modern Musick, Musica Spira, the Baltimore Baroque Band, and Charm City Baroque. A connoisseur of medieval and renaissance music, Stephanie also plays the vielle, rebec, viola da gamba, and renaissance violin with Galdra and the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Master of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma from Peabody Conservatory. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Peabody.


Jamie Gallupe, cello

Jamie Gallupe is a cellist, viola da gamba player, and soprano who specializes in the budding field of historically informed performance practice. Like many who are drawn to historical performance, Jamie’s musical studies began with traditional cello pedagogy. However her taste for the more eclectic things in life has taken her to perform in a variety of nontraditional venues. This immersion in diverse styles and performance practices eventually led her to find her passion in early music. 


Jamie completed a Master of Music degree in historical performance at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in the spring of 2019.There she studied baroque cello and viola da gamba with Dr. John Moran as well as voice with Ah Young.  During her time at Peabody she also served as Musician-In-Residence at the Edenwald Community. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance in 2017 at Eastern Michigan University with Deborah Pae. Currently Jamie teaches chamber music, cello, and assistant directs the Brandenburg Project at the Ann Arbor Community School of Music.


Alexis Bacon, composer

Alexis Bacon is a composer recognized nationally and internationally for both her acoustic and electroacoustic music. Her work draws inspiration from a diverse array of sound worlds, including vanishing American oral traditions, medieval Provençal poetry, Norwegian fiddle music, and Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies. Throughout her career, she has won awards including the IAWM Search for New Music Pauline Oliveros Prize, the Ossia International Composition Prize, the ASCAP/SEAMUS student composition commission, and most recently an honorable mention in the 2018 Hildegard Competition. Her work has been supported by awards and grants from the Indiana Arts Council, the Percussive Arts Society, the American Music Center, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and commissioned by ensembles and artists including National Sawdust, Burning River Baroque, Due East, the Bro-Fowler Duo, violinist Robert Simonds, and several commissioning consortiums comprising dozens of commissioners. A Fulbright scholar in France, she completed undergraduate studies in music composition and viola performance at Rice University and graduate studies in music composition at the University of Michigan. She is currently Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Michigan State University.



Burning River Baroque brings diverse communities together through vibrant musical performances that inspire engaging dialogues and meaningful social change.


Malina Rauschenfels (President), David W. Elbrecht (Interim Treasurer), Shari Nacson (Secretary), Audrey Hudak, Zoe Neely


Ben Nicholas


Malina Rauschenfels, Executive Director

Paula Maust, General Manager


Holden Neely


Our ninth season will explore connections to the earth, climate change, and apocalypse as well as a collaboration with celebrated Cleveland New Music Ensemble Bluestreak Ensemble

For information on future events, please sign up for our mailing list! Available at our information table, on Facebook, or at our website.


Renee Jones and the Renee Jones Empowerment Center community; Erika and Dumaine Williams, Daniel Kenworthy and the Bard High School Early College community; Michael Newman and Blank Canvas Cle; Alexander Barton and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer community; Gayle Catinella and the St. John’s Episcopal Church community, Gary Sexton and the WYSU 88.5 FM; Steven Intermill and the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick; Rev. Joe Cherry, Michael Carney, and the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland community; Sarah Miano, Audrey Hudak, Steve Fopeano; Melanie Emig; Martin Morell; Hannah Baxter; Alexis Bacon, Ohio Arts Council; Cuyahoga Arts and Culture; Cleveland Foundation; Early Music America; our musicians, board of directors and all of our friends and family who promoted and attended our events!

***To join our mailing list to get 0-2 emails a year if we come to this area, send us an email at directors@burning-river-baroque with the words "California email list" or you will end up on the Cleveland list.

Our Donors (Since 3/1/19)

Angel ($250+)


Roman Arnold and Stephanie Cano, Stephano Fopeano, Sandra Lehr, Shari Nacson, Malina Rauschenfels


Patron ($100+)


Chaim Caron, Winnie Wingyee Cheung, Audrey Hudak, Frederick Lautzenheiser, Peter J. Pogacar,  L. J. Kimble & Rick Kimble (in Memory of Nina Stevanus), James Edwin Neely III and Shawn Shores, Jannette Schenk, Lisa Rauschenfels Schrader, Marcia Stevanus Maust, Ee Loon Tham


Sponsor ($50+)


Barbara Kres Beach & George Beach, Peter Bohan, Janis K Burkett, Nelson Cano, Rebecca Dempster, David Elbrecht, L. J. Kimble & Rick Kimble, John Orluk Lacombe, Emily Lau, Lynn Maust, Liesl Odenweller, Anita Rauschenfels, Adam Roberts, Juliana Sadock Savino, Sara Copenhaver Scudier, Judy Sees, Karen Stiefel, Sara Syed, Nancy G. Tepper


Benefactor ($25+)


Danelle Ardell, David A. Basinski Jr & Alica G. Basinski, Mark Binnig & Kathleen Patton Binnig, Katarina Cerny & James Kaltenbach, Larry Arlene Dunn, Christine Gevert, Subhana Cathy Graf, Carey Hackett, Sharon Hicks, Devin Hinzo, Virgil Kee, Daniel Kenworthy, Vanessa Lange, Lizaldo Lion, Candace Manger, Salome Sandoval McNutt, Sarah Miano, Jody Oberfelder, Rebecca Pudelski, Colleen Renee, Jenny Snyder, Donna Stewart, Virginia Sundin, Amanda Yoho


Friend ($10+)


Lewis Baratz, Ellen Cummings Barcus, Kim Baron, Jaime Bouvier, Alice Culin-Ellison, Becky Enz, Melody Fader, Larry Gerber, Fred Isozaki, Mimi Jong, Suzanne Karapashev, Virginia Kaycoff, Jackie Keller, Larry Keller, Melissa Kalt McClain, Renaldo Patiño, Alicia Randisi-hooker, Dave Rauschenfels, Kristen Rock, Bob Russell, Dalia Shafie, Jonathan Y. Tan, Gwendolyn Toth, Alisa Warshay


Déja vu donors

Your recurring monthly donations allow us to plan and thrive!

Eda Daniel

We try our best to list you as you prefer. If you find a mistake, please email

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