New Comma Baroque, an ensemble specializing in Baroque-era instruments and music, will be hosting a concert on Friday at Valparaiso University.

The concert will be held in Duesenberg Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. It is free admission.

According to New Comma Baroque’s website, the chamber ensemble is “dedicated to re-engaging modern audiences through historically-informed performances”.

The ensemble’s programming is also described as  “colorful, spirited, dynamic and collaborative” and as “always thinking outside the ‘Bachs.’

New Comma Baroque “works closely with Illinois’ first period-instrument public school Baroque orchestra at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill.”

The website invites attendees to “embark on a vibrant, new and electrifying ways of experiencing Early Music,” and that New Comma Baroque is “bold historically-informed performance. Period.”

This particular concert at Valpo will explore music and later interpretations on the viola de gamba, a Baroque instrument similar to the cello that came into existence during the mid-15th century.

Valparaiso University’s Department of Music invited students to attend the “very special program.” It will also be a way to honor the anniversary of Sept. 11.

The concert is called “The Twilight Kingdom: The Waning of the Viol in Europe”. It will be the fourth concert that New Baroque Comma has held at Valpo since 2012.

The description of the concert said that the ensemble will play pieces “from well-known masters as to the lesser-known composers, from Johann Gottfried Mente and Christian Wilhelm Podbielski to the so-called ‘last gambists’ Carl Friedrich Abel​and Franz Xaver Hammer.”

The ensemble for the concert will consist of Phillip W. Serna, Emily Jane Katayama and guest artist Eric Fisher.

       Serna will be playing the viola de gamba, Katayama will be on the harpsichord, and Fisher will be playing the violone, another cello-like instrument popularized in the Baroque era.

       Serna is the instructor of viola de gamba and the double-bass at Valparaiso University. He has been at Valpo for seven years after completing his doctorate at Northwestern.

Serna will be playing a seven-string bass viol named “Natalia La Reveuse”.

       “[The instrument] is named both for La Reveuse, a piece by gambist Marin Marais, and my daughter Natalia,” Serna said.

Pieces that will be performed at the concert include “Suite in A minor for viola da gamba and continuo” written in 1759 by Mente and “Sonata in G Major for viola da gamba and continuo” by Podbielski.

“The Sonata is a four-movement work filled with technical passage work, and ending with a polonaise, originally published by Breitkopf in 1799, but here performed from a modern edition,” Serna said.

He said that the Sonata in G major is part of is based off of Podbielski’s earlier piano works, and probably taken from his early manuscripts.

Contact Sarah Geekie at

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