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October 22 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Early Music Missouri presents “The Rhetoric of the Gods: An Afternoon in a 17th-Century French Salon”

Early Music Missouri presents it first EMMo@MOCRA recital of the 2023 – 2024 season on October 22. Catherine Liddell, one of this country’s foremost experts on French Baroque music, offers an intimate program of solo music for the Baroque lute, “The Rhetoric of the Gods: An Afternoon in a 17th-Century French Salon.” The program includes dances and character pieces by Denis Gaultier, Jacques Gallot and others.

While Italian and English lutenists and their compositions dominated the sixteenth century musical landscape, French lutenists/composers had a major impact on the instrument’s construction and repertoire in the seventeenth century. Early in the century, French lutenists experimented with their instruments, adding extra bass strings and devising a number of alternative tunings. These new tunings typically featured open chord sonorities, leading to a repertoire with a thick and lush sound. The added bass strings grew the instrument from a 7- or 8-course instrument to an 11-, 12- and eventually 13-course instrument.

This program offers a wide-ranging exploration of the repertoire that developed alongside this new instrument. Most, if not all, of the music on today’s recital might have been heard by attendees at the numerous and regular Parisian salons of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Typically hosted by women, these literary gatherings featured conversation, poetry, discussion of cultural affairs, and music. Exclusive gatherings, they were both public displays and intimate conferences. Music played an important role in these salons, reflecting the same themes of performance and intimate sharing.

The concert will take place in the Main Gallery of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art on the campus of Saint Louis University. MOCRA is an ideal acoustic space for plucked instruments that makes every listener feel like the instrument is right next to them. The delicate and intimate Baroque lute will be heard at its best in this setting. In addition, the walls and space are filled with evocative art that enhances the performance experience.

The concert takes place on October 22, 2023 at 3:00 p.m and is open to the public. Admission to the concert is $20 per person at the door. Students, faculty and staff of Saint Louis University may attend at no charge.

The venue features plenty of on- and off-street parking and handicapped accessibility.

Recognized internationally for her skill, sensitivity and experience accompanying 16th– and 17th– century music on lute and theorbo, Catherine Liddell has performed with many of America’s leading period instrument ensembles. Based in New England, she has a long-standing performing relationship with Boston’s famed Handel & Haydn Society and Boston Baroque.

Catherine’s passion for 17th-century French music has led her to create and perform numerous concert programs featuring the music of Denis and Ennemond Gaultier, Germaine Pinel, François duFaut, Jacques Gallot, and Robert de Visée, among others. She has presented recitals of this rarely-heard repertoire at the Lute Society of America Summer Seminars and in fringe events at the Boston Early Music Festival. Her solo recording, La Belle Voilée, 17th Century French Music by Jacques Gallot and Others garnered high praise within the lute community: “Catherine Liddell’s performance in my opinion tops the leader-board for interpretation, tonality and a unique sensitivity and tenderness.” A reviewer for Early Music America lauded her recent recording with viola da gambist Laura Jeppsesen, Marais at Midnight, as “a performance of alluring introspection and tenderness, a celebration of music both refined and stately.”

Catherine has published Sacred Music for Lute, available through Lyre Editions, Fort Worth, Texas, as well as a primer on how to read from German tablature, available on the Lute Society of America website.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Catherine earned the Soloist Diploma from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland. She serves as Lecturer in Lute in the Historical Performance Program at Boston University where she coaches ensembles in Baroque performance practice. President of the Lute Society of America, Catherine also serves as Chair of the Board of the Aston Magna Foundation, which produces the longest running annual summer festival devoted to music performed on period instruments in North America.


October 22
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Free – $20
Event Website:


Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA)
3700 West Pine Mall Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108 United States
(314) 977-7170
Venue Website:
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Early Music Missouri
Organizer Website:
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