MAK was founded in 1973 by Reinhard Goebel, who has led the group from the first violinist's position ever since; the ensemble, which has always been identified with Goebel and his combination of liveliness and rigor, is disbanding at the end of this year because he can no longer play violin.
In 1990, Goebel's left hand was struck by focal dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes paralysis of an isolated body part. (This same condition ended the violin career of Peter Oundjian, who led the Tokyo String Quartet before turning to conducting, and disabled the right hands of pianists Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman.)
Goebel turned his famous discipline to the task of relearning his instrument altogether, holding and fingering the violin with his right hand while bowing with his left. He continued to perform this way until 2001, but the ailment is now forcing him to give up playing entirely. (As Oundjian did before him, Goebel plans to concentrate on conducting, including work with modern-instrument orchestras.) Ilia Korol will serve as the guest concertmaster for this US tour.
Following tonight's concert in Carnegie's Zankel Hall, MAK will travel to California for concerts in San Diego (Nov. 4), Santa Barbara (Nov. 5), Los Angeles (Nov. 7) and Berkeley (Nov. 8). San Diego and Santa Barbara will hear a program of concertos for strings and winds by Bach, Heinichen, Telemann and Zelenka; audiences in New York, Los Angeles and Berkeley will hear music by the same composers and two elder Bachs, including three vocal works sung by contralto Marijana Mijanovic.
Upon its return to Europe, Musica Antiqua K‹ln will give its final two scheduled performances: in Lausanne, Switzerland on November 12 and in Duisberg, Germany on November 20.
More information on the ensemble, including concert venues for the US tour as well as about the group's numerous recordings for Deutsche Grammophon Archiv, is available at www.musica-antiqua-koeln.de.