Co-Artistic Directors Ryan Mullaney and Lyle Nordstrom are pleased to announce Mountainside Baroque's 6th annual series of concerts, "Music of Princes and Paupers." As always, the 2016-2017 season will reflect the varied worlds of early music: earthy and ethereal; secular and sacred; court and country; and choral, vocal and instrumental. Featuring a dynamic lineup of new faces and Mountainside favorites, this year promises to once again bring a mixture of Baroque classics and unknown treasures to the mountains.The new season will lead off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, at the Shrine of SS. Peter and Paul in Cumberland, with "Handel's Dueling Divas." In 1719, Handel helped organize the Royal Academy of Music, which performed a great number of his dramatic works. Several years after the Academy's founding, Handel imported as his leading lady the famous soprano Francesca Cuzzoni. In a continuing search for the greatest singers of the time, in spring of 1726 Handel brought in mezzo-soprano and virtuosa Faustina Bordoni. As singers of equal stature, a rivalry for the ages was born between these two renowned performers. Mountainside's program recounts their story with some of the very arias that made them famous. Featuring Grammy award-winning soprano Esteli Gomez as Francesca Cuzzoni and mezzo-soprano Fabiana Gonzales as Faustina Bordoni, the concert will offer a taste of their constant competition, right up through an alleged on-stage tiff. Included in the second half of the concert will be two of the composer's sixteen Chandos anthems ("O Sing Unto the Lord" and "Let God Arise"), featuring Mountainside's resident chamber choir, the Scholars of St. Cecilia, with guest soloists, tenor Bradley King and baritone Robert Tudor. These modest, yet inventive works, include a variety of choruses and solos, and pave the way for Handel's famous English oratorios, such as Messiah. (This concert will be repeated on Sunday, October 9, at 3:30 p.m. at The Church of the Nativity at Cedarcroft in Baltimore, Maryland.)Next, in November, for one weekend only, Mountainside Baroque and The Cumberland Theatre will collaborate on a version of the rollicking 1728 Baroque farce, "The Beggar's Opera." Featuring favorite ballad tunes of the period and John Gay's satirical commentary on high art and corrupt aristocracy, this monumentally popular work will be presented fully staged with orchestra. Performances will be on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, beginning at 8:00 p.m., and again on Sunday, November 13, at 4:00 p.m. A parody of the Italian opera of the time being composed by Handel and others, the play's central character, Macheath, is also the basis for the "Mac the Knife" character in the Weill & Brecht's 1928 The Three Penny Opera. (For these performances only, tickets will be available through the Cumberland Theatre. Mountainside season tickets will also be honored.)For the fourth year in a row, the Scholars of Saint Cecilia, Mountainside's chamber choir, will sing the "Festival of Lessons and Carols for Christmas" at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Sunday, December 18, beginning at 5:00 p.m. The service features seasonal music, traditional carols, and readings by clergy and local officials. It is (as always) free-of-charge, though a free will offering will be received. This has quickly become an annual tradition and is a great way to kick off the Holiday season in downtown Cumberland!Continuing in 2017 will be Mountainside's annual chamber music concert, titled "The Kinges Musique." This performance of works from the courts of the Tudor monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I will be presented on Sunday, March 5, at 4 p.m. in The Lodge Room of the Cumberland Masonic Temple. Mountainside is excited to present its first concert at this location, which promises to serve as a fitting and intimate backdrop for music by and for these storied Renaissance kings. Famously, King Henry the VIII, in addition to being a temperamental and narcissistic ruler, was also a relatively talented musician and composer. It was not uncommon for his music to be performed at court by both the king himself, and his court musicians. Elizabeth I, a legendary patron of the arts, especially music, fostered the era that represents the height of English Renaissance style.Mountainside Baroque's season-ending concert, titled "Many Faces of Bach," will be presented at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Cumberland on Saturday, April 8 beginning at 7:30 p.m. History has rightfully made much of Bach's sacred music, particularly his extant church cantatas, but his secular vocal and instrumental works are clearly of equal quality. Featured in this concert are Bach's pseudo-operatic "Coffee Cantata," and his Brandenburg Concerto 4, featuring Baroque violinist Cynthia Roberts. As these dates include Palm Sunday, Mountainside Baroque will perform Cantata 182, Himmelskonig, sei willkomen. Soprano Nola Richardson and bass Joseph Hubbard will be featured in the "Coffee Cantata" and tenor Tyler Ray and mezzo-soprano Janna Critz will also solo in Cantata 182. (This concert will be repeated in Beckley, West Virginia on Sunday, April 9 at 3:30 p.m.)Mountainside Baroque is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is funded in part by the Maryland State Arts Council, The Allegany Arts Council, The Naylor Family Trust Fund of The Community Trust Foundation, the City of Cumberland, and many individual and corporate sponsors. More information can be found at www.mountainsidebaroque.org, by calling 301-338-2940 or by emailing to [email protected] Tickets may be purchased by cash or check at the door or at the Book Center on Centre Street in Cumberland, and via PayPal on the Mountainside Baroque website.