News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or

Press Release


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Tina Chancey, one of the world's only specialists on the rare French pardessus de viole, and Webb Wiggins, harpsichord instructor at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, will perform baroque music for pardessus and harpsichord by Jean-Marie Leclair, Marin Marais, and Arcangelo Corelli on Sunday, February 17, at 3 p.m. in the Eliot Hall chapel at Reed College. Tickets will be available at the door for $10 general, $8 for students and seniors. The concert is sponsored by the Reed music department; for more information call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755.

Although the pardessus was all the rage with aristocratic women amateurs just before the French Revolution, only a handful of people play it today. A hybrid of the violin and the viol, it was created because custom forbade eighteenth-century French women musicians from holding anything on their bare shoulders. How could they play the violin sonatas of Corelli that were taking France by storm? The pardessus was the answer. Held demurely on the lap, it had frets like a viol but was tuned like a combination violin and viol. And though it sounds awkward to play, the pardessus's gamy, throaty sound, so reminiscent of the human voice, captivated the eighteenth-century listener's imagination, just as it captivated Chancey's almost 20 years ago when she first started to play it.

A specialist on the viola da gamba and other early bowed string instruments, Tina Chancey jokes that she became interested in the pardessus partly because no one played it, but she kept playing it for its own sake. She owns an original instrument, made in 1750 by Louis Guersan. A founding member and co-director of Hesperus, she is also a former member of the Folger Consort, the New York Renaissance Band, and the Ensemble for Early Music. She has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts solo recitalist program to play concerts all over the country, as well as debut concerts at Kennedy Center and Carnegie Recital Hall. Chancey also wrote her dissertation on the pardessus and has recorded six suites for two pardessus by Barthelemy de Caix with Catharina Meints on the Dorian label. Chancey's articles on early music appear in scholarly and popular publications, and she has recorded for a score of labels from Arabesque to Windham Hill. With her husband, Scott Reiss, she has done research in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, supported by Earthwatch. Chancey also works as an independent recording producer.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer says: "Beautiful in warmth, focus and expressivity, the pardessus sang like a human voice in Chancey's sensitive hands."

# # # #