The Iota Printshop is hosting a concert Friday March 18th by the chamber music group 'Alphabet Baroque Club'…which may not seem like a letterpress-related event. And it isn't. But there's a history here, and not just the one that goes back centuries. It's that the violinist Maria Caswell is an old friend of my family's. And that for fifty years I've had a fascination with the early baroque composers. Then there's the history of this ensemble: when they began practicing together they decided to work their way through the early Baroque composers from A to Z. When they had performances, they stayed with the idea and called themselves the ABC (Alphabet Baroque Club). They use original instruments of the era to retain the sonorities of the time.
When they had a venue cancel for March 18th, I had this feeling: our printshop is teeming with ABCs… our presses are over a hundred years old and one of them is in the lineage of the Fifteenth century printers…we adhere to the old one-letter-at-a-time method invented by Gutenberg…our printing is like chamber work, usually passed amongst less than a hundred people, rather than published in the thousands … & it felt to me like: this is Resonant! This has to happen, not just because I know Maria or I have this old interest in early Baroque.
These instruments, these tonalities…they will vibrate amongst our old presses and wooden alphabets…and echo our own fascination with an older practice of art that was intimate & beautiful.