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Mallarmé Chamber Players Get 'HIP' With An Unlikely Instrument

An image of classical musicians
Courtesy of Mallarme Chamber Players
Musicians from left to right: Ken Slowik, John Hsu, Brent Wissick and Stephanie Vial

Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn is most known for writing more than 100 symphonies in the 18th century. However, Haydn also wrote 175 compositions featuring a unique instrument: the baryton. The baryton is a string instrument similar to a cello in the front with six string that are bowed.

Meanwhile, a series of wire strings behind the neck enable the musician to pluck along as they bow the front. The sound is similar to harpsichord, but the instrument is a challenge to play. Durham-based classical troupe Mallarmé Chamber Players will team up with the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to showcase a historically-informed performance (HIP) called "Haydn's Baryton."

Host Frank Stasio talks with members of the Mallarmé Chamber Players about the history of the baryton and why it has experienced a resurrection among period-piece musicians. The group performs live in the studio with Brent Wissick andKenneth Slowik on baryton, Suzanne Roussoon viola and Stephanie Vialon cello. The performance takes place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Kenan Rehearsal Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

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Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.