Guts creates welcoming, powerful, un-stuffy experiences of baroque music played on period instruments, bringing you up close and personal with the music and the juicy stories of the composers and performers behind it. We breathe life into beautiful and unusual music that we love, bringing it from the 17th and 18th centuries to your ears. Come experience the warmth and immediacy of historically-informed chamber music!
Born of a chance meeting in a graduate program ensemble, Guts Baroque blossomed in 2019 and became the primary performance project of Sylvia Schwartz, baroque violinist, and John Ott, viola da gambist, baroque cellist, and scholar. With the good fortune of locking down together in March 2020, Guts was one of the first American early music ensembles to launch a livestream concert series. They continued livestreaming most months since, through the spring of 2022, building a loyal community of patrons and amassing a sizable repertoire that they look forward to releasing as albums and performing in person.
With the return to live performance in 2021, Guts was featured together and individually in the Portland Bach Experience, an award-winning festival in Portland, ME directed by Maine Artist of the Year, Dr. Emily Isaacson. Guts appeared in several chamber concerts, and served as principal cellist and concertmaster in the festival orchestra. They returned to Portland Bach Experience 2022, featured in salon performances of an amazing program “Back to Bach” curated and performed by baroque and jazz violinist Julia McKenzie, tracing the influences of Bach, Marais, Rameau, and other Baroque composers on the likes of Dave Brubeck, John Williams, the Beatles, Paul Simon, and others.
Benefiting from co-founder John Ott’s resesarch and meticulous preparation of performing editions from original editions and manuscripts, Guts builds engaging, thematic programs digging into a particular moment in history or a literary inspiration. Ott brings the audience close to the music with his approachable storytelling from the stage, shining light on the personalities as well as the music itself. The pair’s performances bring all the vibrance of a deep belief in the power of music to heal and nourish those who listen and play, a shared understanding of baroque dance and gesture, and a singular “togetherness” that their audiences often remark upon.
Our members maintain active teaching studios, including aspects of historical performance practice seamlessly in their teaching and sharing their love of baroque music performance.
Guts has performed in churches and breweries, from Southern California to Maine, in Groupmuses and their own livestream series, and opened the 2021 Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Festival with their performance of “Rising from the Ashes of Plague: Music for Violin & Basso from 17th-Century Italy”. Currently based in Portland, Maine, Guts is eager to bring the full, in-person experience of their music back to people across New England and beyond, and to continue growing their online musicmaking that has allowed them to bring people together from around the world.
In the spring of 2023, with co-founder John Ott returning to his native California, Guts welcomed cellist-gambist Rebecca Shaw to be our primary bowed bassist for New England area concerts. We are thrilled to have her join us and look forward to a resurgence of Guts activity in the coming months. Stay tuned!
Deeply inspired by the relationship between music, movement, and dance, violinist and Dalcrozian Sylvia Schwartz is a passionate chamber musician in both modern and historical performance practices. The power of music to heal and to bring us together drives Sylvia to perform wherever she can, from the Scarborough COVID-19 vaccine clinic to Shostakovich Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sylvia performs with several groups including Guts Baroque (which she co-founded and manages), Newton Baroque, Eudaimonia—a Purposeful Period Band, Portland Bach Experience, and on the Noonday, Quietside, Bagaduce, and BEMF Fringe concert series. Sylvia earned a M.Mus. in Violin Performance from Longy School of Music, and a B.S. in Engineering from Olin College. She enjoys nurturing vivid, historically-informed playing in her students of all ages in Portland, Maine at Palaver Music Center, Portland Conservatory, and Waynflete School and at Powers Music School in Belmont, MA. More…
Rebecca Shaw has a genuine excitement and enthusiasm for the music and instruments she plays. Rebecca has been heard with various ensembles in the Boston area, and has played with ensembles including Musical Offering, The Weckmann Project, The Arcadia Players, Cambridge Concentus, Les Bostonades, Grand Harmonie, and The Berry Collective. She is the founder of Arreaux Strings – an event music service, arranges music for strings, teaches Baroque and modern cello along with other instruments of the violin family, and coaches chamber music at Harvard’s Mather House. Rebecca is also the Assistant Director of Baroque Cello Bootcamp with Phoebe Carrai.
Rebecca can occasionally be heard on viola da gamba, violin, baroque and modern viola, and bass. Performing in both early and modern classical genres, she received a Graduate Performance Diploma in Early Music from the Longy School of Music as a student of Phoebe Carrai, holds a Masters Degree and Performance Certificate in Chamber Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Institute of Chamber Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Rutgers University.
Cellist and gambist John Ott, a native of Los Angeles, received his Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from UC Irvine in 2004, studying with Dr. Margaret Parkins, and in 2016 completed his Master of Music degree in Early Music, viola da gamba at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he studied with Jane Hershey. In between, he performed with Symphony Irvine, Dana Point Symphony, Montage Civic Orchestra, and South Orange County Chamber Orchestra, played in the string quartet Elegie Quartet, and played chamber music all over Los Angeles and Orange County. He also maintains a large teaching studio, primarily at Vienna Music Institute in Irvine. During his two years in Massachusetts, aside from his Longy ensembles, he performed with Boston Camerata and Boston Opera Collaborative. He also co-music directs and performs with the period ensemble L’Esprit Baroque, founded in 2013. More…