One of the most beloved holiday traditions in Salt Lake City is the Vivaldi by Candlelight concert. A benefit for the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, a non profit organization dedicated to promoting global understanding and respect between the people of Utah and other nations, the concert series is celebrating its 35th year this week.
Titled A Baroque Kaleidoscope, the program features music by the concert’s namesake, Antonio Vivaldi, and his German contemporary J.S. Bach. There will also be music by Heinrich Biber, Giuseppe Brescianello, Pietro Castrucci and Alessandro Stradella. Highly regarded as composers and performers in their day (late 17th and early 18th centuries), they’re now mostly forgotten except as footnotes in music history textbooks.(Credit: Nicholas Steffens)
Music director of the concert series, Gerald Elias, noted that Vivaldi had also suffered the same fate after his death. After his music was rediscovered and began being performed in the 20th century, he finally assumed his rightful place next to Bach and George Frideric Handel as one of the most important and respected composers of the baroque era.
The same hasn’t yet happened with Biber, Brescianella, Castrucci and Stradella. And it’s unlikely that they’ll ever become household names. “They’re more like curiosities,” Elias said in an interview, “although Stradella wrote some beautiful music. In fact, we’re opening the concert with a very sublime piece of his.”
Finding music by these long obscure composers is fairly easy, Elias admitted. First, he searches for baroque composers on YouTube. When he finds music he likes and which he believes will work on the concert, he looks it up on, which houses thousands of works that are in the public domain. May of those works are scans of the original manuscript. “I love finding manuscripts, because you get to go right to the horse’s mouth, as it were,” Elias said. “The manuscripts are free from editorial additions, and that’s the best way to learn the music.”
Elias has been the music director of the Vivaldi series since 2004. He feels there is a need for an outlet devoted to the music of the baroque era. “There is so much great music from this period that deserves to be played and heard,” he said. “And it needs to be heard in churches and small halls, where its transparency and clarity and angelic sound can be appreciated.”
The concert takes place on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in First Presbyterian Church, 12 C St. Tickets are $25-$125 and include a discounted student price. They can be purchased online at or by calling 801-832-3270.

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