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Founded in San Francisco in 1986, American Baroque brings together some of America's most accomplished and exciting baroque instrumentalists, with the purpose of defining a new, modern genre for historical instruments. The group's adventurous programs combine 18th-century music with new works, composed for the group through collaborations and commissions from American composers. An ensemble of eclectic, accomplished, and artful musicians, the performances bridge a gap between the edges of the new music frontier and the familiar roads to music of the past, and expands the repertoire and scope of historical instruments into the new millenium.

After many accomplishments in the field of early music, in the early 1990s American Baroque began exploring the territory of performing new music written for historical instruments through its collaboration with composer, member and gambist Roy Whelden and his pieces Quartet After Abel and Gamba Quartet, which resulted in a CD release on the New Albion label in 1993. Intrigued by the unique timbres and subtlety of sounds inherent in their period instruments, the group continued to pursue projects and programming that involved combinations of new and old elements. Collaborations with such artists and composers as Rudy Rucker, Jonathan Berger, Carl Stone, and the Common Sense Composers Collective yielded an unprecented number of commissioned works written specifically for the group's instruments.

Since its founding, the ensemble has been featured at the Tage Alter Musik Festival in Regensburg, Germany; the Library of Congress; the Cleveland Museum of Art; San Francisco Early Music Society; on National Public Radio and West Coast Live; and in the Opus415 New Music Festival. In addition, ensemble members perform and record together in the finest period-instrument orchestras in America throughout the year. Recent projects include concerts at the University of Vermont and at Bowdoin College, and a multi-tracked studio recording of Songs of Cold Mountain, a cycle of texts by the 7th-century poet Han Shan. The group is particularly proud of their theatrical and multimedia collaboration entitled "The Death of Anton Webern," written and directed by ensemble member Katherine Shao.

American Baroque has been recognized through grants and awards from the Aaron Copland Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Mikhashoff Foundation for New Music, and the Zellerbach Family Fund, and won first prize for the 2000 ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming. American Baroque remains the only U.S. chamber ensemble committed to performing both new music and 18th-century works on historical instruments, while continuing to explore the issues raised by both genres, old and new.

American Baroque is an affiliate of the San Francisco Early Music Society.