tini mathot

Ton Koopman & Tini Mathot preview: Playing together

Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra director returns with his companion in life and on keyboard

Imagine a balmy June afternoon in Riberac, one of southwest France’s charming hilly villages. There you are – there I was with my Dutch-born husband – in a sun-filled church renovated for performances rather than worship. In strides Dutch world-renowned baroque conductor and keyboardist Ton Koopman wearing a bright red tie (and black suit) and his signature irrepressible bring-it-on smile.

Koopman, an artistic adviser of Portland Baroque Orchestra during the mid-1980s and early ‘90s, will be back in Portland for a duo harpsichord concert with his wife, Tini Mathot, 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 7, at First Baptist Church.

Ton Koopman led Junior Choir of Dordogne in Riberac last fall. Photo: Angela Allen.

Ton Koopman led a girls choir in Riberac last summer. Photo: Angela Allen.

At the Riberac concert, Koopman directed the Junior Choir of Dordogne, sometimes called the Children’s Choir, sometimes the Girls Choir (though many members are young women). The “girls” and three grown-up male singers performed Bach and Mozart, accompanied by members of Koopman’s Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.

Koopman led in his typically ebullient, energetic style. He played harpsichord, too, which brought the full-church audience to its feet – as unruly as well-behaved French audiences are willing to go.

For 14 summers, Koopman has made the journey to southwestern France’s medieval villages like Riberac and Brantome to play the music of such baroque and early-music luminaries as Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn, Handel and Mozart. He says he “draws the line at Mozart’s death” in 1791 and doesn’t perform music composed after that.

He directed PBO off and on between worldwide dates. He often played with Mathot, who triples as wife, record producer and fellow keyboardist. Violinist Monica Huggett, Koopman’s protégée took over PBO as artistic director in 1995 and continues to conduct lively historically informed music with period instruments.