Founded in 2007 by British baroque violinist Garry Clarke, Baroque Band has rapidly established itself as an important member of Chicago’s musical community with regular performances in several Chicago venues, including downtown at Symphony Center. As Chicago’s period-instrument orchestra, it has been hailed by critics and audiences and has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting period-instrument ensembles in the United States.
In the summer of 2008, Baroque Band was named Resident Ensemble of WFMT Radio, giving audiences throughout the world the opportunity to hear the orchestra’s performances through live and recorded radio and internet broadcasts. Baroque Band is also Ensemble-in-Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago, where it offers educational programming as well as concerts.
During its first two seasons, Baroque Band gave more than 80 performances. In addition to its own subscription concerts, Baroque Band performed at the Ravinia Festival, on both the Sunday Salon Series and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series at Chicago’s Cultural Center, as part of the Byron Colby Barn Series, at Purdue University, and at the 2008 Madison Early Music Festival in Wisconsin. The orchestra also performed concerts as part of the 2008 and 2009 Chicago Latino Music Festival.
To commemorate the 250th year since Handel’s death, Baroque Band added to its regular 2008–2009 concert series three performances of Handel’s rarely heard “Dublin” Messiah – the original version of his masterpiece that was given at its premiere performance in Dublin in 1742. These performances were chosen by NewCity alongside concerts by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, and Riccardo Muti and the CSO as one of the top five classical concerts of 2009.
In December 2009 Baroque Band was hailed by John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune as one of the top ten most important developments in Chicago’s classical music scene for the decade.