Baroque ensemble ‘Harmonie Universelle’ to perform in the Piedmont Chapel


Harmonie Universelle is known for performing music from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries on instruments from those periods such as harpsichord and viola da gamba. The performance entitled “J.S. Bach and his Sons” will begin at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Nov. 5 in Chapel at the college in Demorest.

The ensemble will perform “Sonata from A Musical Offering” by Johann Sebastian Bach and three more pieces by his sons Johann Christian Bach, Wilhelm Friedmann Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

The pieces will be performed by four musicians playing harpsichord, baroque flute, violin, and viola da gamba. The harpsichord replaces a modern day piano. The baroque flute is made of wood and has one key instead of a metal flute with 16 keys. The violin is strung with gut strings, made from animal intestines, and has no shoulder rest like modern violins.

Daniel Pyle, ensemble director, says the biggest difference between modern instruments and baroque instruments is modern instruments are louder. The instruments evolved to be louder as concert halls got bigger. “With a large modern orchestra you can create a great wall of sound. With baroque instruments you can hear all the little things going on to make the complete musical texture.”

Harmonie Universelle was created by director Daniel Pyle and the name has a few connecting twists and turns. “Harmonie Universelle” is the name of a music encyclopedia written and published in 1836. This is the same encyclopedia that was the topic of Pyle’s first professor’s dissertation at the University of Alabama. The name is French which is the large core repertoire of his professor and is translated from French to Universal Harmony

Since being formed in 1984 they have performed twice at the Utrecht Festival of Early Music and at the Boston Early Music Festival. They also participated in the second year of the Chamber Music in Rural Residencies program of National Endowment for the Arts.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Piedmont students, faculty, and staff are admitted free.