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Renowned Jacobs alumni among musicians performing Biber 'Mystery Sonatas' for Middle Way House benefit

April 23, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A number of leading Baroque violinists who studied at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will return to Bloomington for a rare performance of Heinrich Biber's "Mystery Sonatas" at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28.

The benefit concert for Middle Way House, a domestic violence victim services program and crisis center, will take place at Fairview United Methodist Church, 600 West Sixth St.

Presented by the Bloomington Early Music Festival, with support from the Jacobs School's Early Music Institute, the event is sponsored by WFIU Public Radio and Ted Jones, in honor of Marcia Bush-Jones.

Jacobs School alumni in the performance include violinists Ingrid Matthews, Gesa Kordes, Alice Culin-Ellison, Janelle Davis and Julia Wedman; cellist Shelley Taylor; viola da gambists Christine Kyprianides and Erica Rubis; violone performer Philip Spray; lutenist David Walker and harpsichordists Byron Schenkman and Janet Scott.

Additional guests are violinists Rachel Barton Pine, Edith Hines and Dana Maiben; and lutenist Lyle Nordstrom.

Jacobs School faculty members participating in the concert are Elisabeth Wright, harpsichord, and Wendy Gillespie, viola da gamba.

Students joining them are Valerie Gordon and Valerie Weber, violin, and Maho Sone Grazzini, harpsichord.

Biber composed his highly virtuosic "Mystery Sonatas," also known as "The Rosary Sonatas," by employing a technique called "scordatura" (Italian for "mistuning"), which requires unusual tunings of the violin strings.

Each of the 15 sonatas in this cycle takes its inspiration from the mysteries meditated upon during the praying of the Rosary.

Artistic director Janelle Davis said she conceived of the event as a tribute to the women who have been influential in her own life.

"One of the most famous women in history is the Virgin Mary, and it's the story of Mary's bravery in the face of adversity that Biber depicts in this sonata cycle," said Davis. "I've been so impressed by the way Middle Way House serves and supports women in hardship. I can't think of a better fit for this project."

Toby Strout, director of Middle Way House, is thrilled Middle Way will be the beneficiary of such an historic event.

"In addition to the extraordinary lineup of musicians and how rare it is that the entire cycle will be performed live, what makes this event so special is the opportunity it will afford audience members to honor the special women in their lives," said Strout.

Jacobs faculty and students may attend the event for a reduced ticket price of $15 off the general admission price of $50.

To take advantage of the offer, the code "JSoM" should be added to online or walk-up purchases.

More information about the concert, with additional ticket price options is available at

All tickets are available at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater Box Office at and 812-323-3020.

Contact Middle Way House at 812-333-7404 or e-mail for detailed information and availability of sponsor level and donor level tickets.

Concurrent with the concert, Bloomington artist Jennifer Mujezinovic is organizing an exhibit of original works by local visual artists—works that are inspired by Biber's music, the person of Mary and other themes especially pertinent to the lives of women.

The exhibit will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Fairview United Methodist Church, Aldersgate Hall.

Admission is free, and displayed art pieces will be available for sale, a portion of which will be donated to Middle Way.


The Bloomington Early Music Festival encourages and celebrates historically informed performance with an annual festival, seasonal concerts, numerous educational events in the immediate region and committed support for emerging performing artists.

For more information, visit

About Middle Way House

Middle Way House is committed to implementing and sustaining meaningful alternatives to living with violence and improving the lives of battered women and their children.

Nationally recognized programs developed at Middle Way result in 18% of sheltered women returning to their abusive environments, compared to 55-70% nationwide.

Middle Way House offers housing, education and employment opportunities to these women, all while working to enhance their confidence and personal growth.

For more information, visit