Musicians of Ma’alwyck

Violinist Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, flutist Norman Thibodeau and guitarist Sten Isachsen share music that takes its programming cues from the Ruins of Rome wallpaper based on the engravings of Giovanni Pannini and recently installed at the Schuyler Mansion. Philip Schuyler traveled to England in the 1760s and ordered this custom wallpaper while there. The Schuylers, along with the van Rensselaers and another family in Salem, Mass., were the only houses in early America to have this stunning paper. The concert will feature music of Stamitz, Bellini, Telemann and Rossini with a special potpourri of tunes from the opera “Norma,” set in ancient Rome.

Musicians of Ma’alwyck is a flexible-size chamber ensemble in residence at the Schuyler Mansion New York State Historic Site and Schenectady County Community College. Founded in 1999 by violinist and director Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, the group specializes in music performed in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many of the performing materials are drawn from the Special Collections of the New York State Library. In 2002, Musicians of Ma’alwyck performed by invitation for television producer Norman Lear in celebration of his purchase of the last private copy of the Declaration of Independence. Musicians of Ma’alwyck has been presented on National Public Radio, WMHT-FM and WMHT-TV. In 2009, the ensemble produced the 1783 opera “The Poor Soldier” by William Shield, drawing national attention. Musicians of Ma’alwyck recently released its first commercial CD, which Joseph Dalton of the Times Union praised, calling it “elegant and charming.”

Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz attended Boston University, where she studied with Roger Shermont and received a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance. From 1982-1997 she was a member of the first violin section of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and currently performs with the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra. She is director and violinist of Musicians of Ma’alwyck. She received her master’s degree in American History from the University at Albany, where she specialized in research of music in America during the 1700s and 1800s. A Cunningham Research Resident at the New York State Library, she worked on early 19th-century musical activities in Albany. She was a producer for Dorian Recordings, and continues in that capacity for the award-winning Baroque ensemble REBEL. Their last recording, devoted to music of Telemann, was in the 2014 Grammy pool. She has taught music history at the University at Albany and Siena College. She is the adjunct professor of violin and viola at Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) and at Union College.

Sten Isachsen has been a member of Musicians of Ma’alwyck since 2001, and commissioned a new work for the ensemble by mandolist Bob Bates, which was premiered in 2005. An assistant professor of music at Schenectady County Community College, he oversees an undergraduate music audio technology program as well as a guitar performance program. He is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet, which has commissioned works from composers Anthony Holland and Brett Wery. Isachsen has also performed with The Albany Symphony, Albany Pro Musica, Capital Region Wind Ensemble and the Empire Jazz Orchestra. In addition to his work as a classical guitarist, Isachsen performs regularly on a variety of instruments, working with Country Music Hall of Famers Charlie Louvin, The Haggar Twins and many upstate New York musicians including Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, Caroline MotherJudge, and GX3+. Isachsen is owner of North Albany Studios, a rehearsal studio complex and recording facility. He is also engineer and producer at Bender Studios, a recording facility in Delmar.

Norman Thibodeau has been a member of Musicians of Ma’alwyck since 2006. He also performs with the wind quintet Fünf and Vermont Virtuosi, and has performed with the Maverick Chamber Players. He was assistant principal flutist of the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México, and has played with almost all the professional orchestras in and near the Capital Region of New York State. In 2008, he was guest solo artist for the Skidmore College Flute Festival. He has recorded solo flute works of Anthony Holland for Albany Records, and has had both live and recorded performances broadcast on NPR.He embraces variety and versatility in his performing life, having performed on a range of flutes from baroque traverso to contrabass flute, plus a quarter-tone flute including a sliding headjoint.

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