The Alphabet Baroque Club, composed of violinist Maria Caswell, treble violist Judiyaba, bass violist Gwyneth Davis, and harpsichordist Phebe Craig, was formed as an offshoot of the A to Zed concert series, a two-year production of monthly concerts in northern California, each featuring composers whose names began with a single letter of the alphabet. (We had to double up on a couple of them so as not to end up with an all-Xenakis program!).
Bringing together musicians of varying backgrounds, our group has explored music for various combinations of instruments, some written for viols and some for violins. While the instrumentation may seem unusual, even somewhat anachronistic, we like to think of ourselves as the kind of group that would have existed in a multi-generational household in or around the 17th century, where the older members played the instruments they were used to, while the younger ones preferred the newly popular violin. (Roger North, writing in the late 17th century, described his grandfather as playing “that antiquated instrument, the treble viol”.) They might have arranged music for the instrumental forces available to them, a practice which we have not hesitated to follow.