Occidental flute player Kathleen Kraft co-directs Early Music Society event at SSU
While growing up in Berkeley in the 1950s and early 1960s, Kathleen Kraft played flute in the Berkeley High Orchestra but never really ?bonded? with her pure silver, modern instrument.
Instead, she fell in love with the deep resonance of the baroque flute and ended up studying at the Royal Conservatory in Holland with Frans Bruggen, an expert in 18th-century music performance.
Kraft didn?t realize it at the time, but she was on the leading edge of the Early Music movement, a revival that would change the face of the Bay Area music scene during ensuing decades.
?I came back from Europe in 1970, and there were about four people playing baroque music in the Bay Area,? Kraft said.
?It has consistently grown since then to include several orchestras ? the American Bach Soloists, Philharmonia Baroque, and Magnificat ? plus a steady stream of pick-up orchestras.?
Although she hadn?t planned on playing music for a living, Kraft discovered that her simple, wooden flute was in constant demand. By 1973, she was fully engaged with teaching and playing baroque chamber music.
For the past 30 years, Kraft has also taught at a baroque workshop put on by the San Francisco Early Music Society each summer.
The workshop, which started at the Cazadero Music Camp and moved to Dominican College in San Rafael, settled three years ago at the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park.
This year, Kraft is one of the co-directors of the weeklong workshop, which starts Sunday and continues with several faculty and student concerts open to the public.
This year?s repertoire concentrates on Italian music from the 17th and 18th centuries, including composers both obscure and famous, from Frescobaldi and Locatelli to Handel and Corelli.
Co-directing the workshop is harpsichordist Phebe Craig of Knights Valley, who teaches in Berkeley and at UC Davis, along with recorder player Frances Blaker of the East Bay.
?We have fantastic faculty from all over the world,? Kraft said. Among the more renowned artists are viola da gamba player Mary Springfels, who led the Newberry Consort of Chicago and retired to New Mexico; harpsichordist Peter Sykes of Boston; recorder player Clea Glahano of Minnesota; Bay Area soprano Chris Brandes, who sings all over the world; and cellist Tanya Tomkins, who plays with the Philharmonia Baroque in the Bay Area.
?We are open to everyone and try to accommodate all levels,? Kraft said. ?You can come for the whole workshop, or just audit a master class in the morning.?
Joan Lounsbery of Santa Rosa, who has brought her viola da gamba to the workshop for the past six years, enjoys playing with students and faculty from all over the country.
?As a practicing amateur gamba player, I find the daily curriculum so rich,? she said.
?It gives me the chance to thoroughly immerse myself in baroque performance practice, with 10 of the best early music artists in the world.?
The SFEMS workshop is one of only a handful of such workshops that take place across the country, and it is a rare opportunity for baroque fans to hear 18th-century music in Sonoma County.
?I have a gut feeling that the time is right for the local audiences,? Kraft said. ?Baroque music has gotten bigger, and this is part of its local flowering.?