House of Time performs this weekend in New Haven. The New York-based ensemble is dedicated to authentic performances of 17th and 18th century music -- including performances played on instruments from that era in classical music.
The group is made up of Juilliard faculty and alumni who are friends that made music together informally for years before deciding to form House of Time.
Like practically any rock and roll band ever, members of the ensemble started kicking around names for their new collaboration. House of Time's baroque oboist Gonzalo Ruiz says they stumbled upon the name by accident.
"We had a long list of names surrounding the name 'chronology,'" he said. "At some point, the Italian version -- 'chronologia' -- was misspelled 'chronologgia,' which means shelter or house of time, and boom -- we had our name."
Time plays an important part in the ensemble's mission -- delivering performances that are as authentic to the time period in which they were originally performed -- and in a sense, taking audience back in time.
A big part of that is playing on period instruments as they would have been constructed and played in the 17th and 18th century. Often, these instruments aren't even played anymore in modern classical ensembles -- things like the lute and theorbo, which is a lute-like instrument with bass strings.
For instruments that survived into modern times like the violin, flute, and oboe, there are differences -- not only in how they were designed and played, but in how they sound. Gonzalo Ruiz said there is a discernible difference between the baroque oboe and the modern version of the instrument.
"The baroque oboe was meant to be very vocal and warm, and sort of blend-y," said Ruiz. "It never had to stick out like the modern oboe does in an orchestra, surrounded by lots of other sounds."
"We're using instruments that don't have all the hardware -- chin rests and shoulder rests, things that modern players have today basically to make their lives easier," said House of Time violinist Tatiana Daubeck. "We're sort of creating a sound with the instrument that is stripped to its bare bones, and we're using the instrument without these extra pieces of hardware, and it's definitely a technical challenge, especially on the body."
House of Time is among many baroque ensembles around the world that play period instruments. More and more conservatories and music schools are offering lessons and degrees for musicians who want to play period instruments. Tatiana Daubeck said the proliferation of period instrument groups has reshaped the public's perception of baroque music, from a restrained, almost austere experience to something a little wilder.
"I like the dance quality," she said. "Sometimes it's a little bit like rock and roll even -- playing a Vivaldi concerto, or a Bach Trio -- it's like you can stomp your foot to it."
House of Time performs music by Handel and Rameau on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 3:00 pm at Sprague Memorial Hall in New Haven.