Agave Baroque will perform as part of the Arizona Early Music Society series. The group specializes in string chamber music of the 17th century.

COURTESY OF AGAVE BAROQUE

Agave Baroque will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the Arizona Early Music Society's current season.

The concert will be presented at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St.

Agave Baroque is a dynamic Bay Area ensemble specializing in string chamber music of the 17th century. When the four young musicians who make up the group were looking for a name, they wanted an image from nature to inspire them. All from the West, they were drawn to "agave."

The ensemble has received several awards and accolades, and gained local and national attention for its vibrant performances and growing discography.

This year the group is a finalist in the prestigious Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition and Early Music America's Baroque Performance Competition.

The program, "Friends of Ferdinand: Johann Schmelzer and Antonio Bertali at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperors," showcases the music of virtuoso composers and violinists at the Hapsburg court (1619-1705). These pieces are particularly striking because they combine serious, austere church music with rustic tunes to create an unlikely marriage of disparate sound worlds.

According to Shirley Hunt, the group's viola da gamba player, Giovanni Battista Granata's Sonata for Guitar, Continuo and Violin is particularly stunning.

"In this piece you're never sure what's coming next," she said. "The music is episodic and seems sometimes to float magically and at other times to romp. There is a range of emotions packed into nine minutes. It's almost like a symphony on a micro level."

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Tickets are $25 general admission; $22 seniors; and $5 students. For more information call 299-2587.

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