Since composing her first piece for violin in third grade, Tina Chancey has continued to explore string instruments. Today, she says she is one of about 10 professional pardessus de viole players in the world.
A regular performer with the Baroque ensemble Hesperus, Chancey will be appearing in the group's last concert this season at Georgetown University on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Gaston Hall.
Chancey took up playing the pardessus de viole, a small viola da gamba, when Hesperus needed to add a treble string instrument. "I had been reading about the pardessus de viole and happened to meet a maker . . . She agreed to make me one," Chancey says.
A year and a half later, Chancey had her instrument in hand -- but not your ordinary pardessus de viole: "My father had just died, and it used to be habit or fashion to have a carving on the pardessus de viole. I thought, 'Why not have her carve the head of someone real -- my father.' "
Saturday's concert will also feature Chancey's husband and recorder player, Scott Reiss, in the Vivaldi C-major flautino concerto, and soprano Julianne Baird in Handel's cantata "Tra le Fiamme." Reiss, director of Hesperus, adds, "This is the first time we're having a chamber orchestra. We're always just a chamber ensemble; we've never had the full string contingent."