Baltimore Consort: Music Fit For A Queen
EMN Celebrates Valentine's Weekend, Commemorates Shakespeare
Early music fans who attends the Valentine’s weekend concert presented by Early Music Now will be entertained by a consort of instruments drawn directly from the Renaissance. The six members of the Baltimore Consort bring with them an “exquisite consort” of instruments exactly equivalent to the band that was popular in Elizabethan times, as described in this contemporaneous account of the “honourable entertainment” provided by the Earl of Hertford for the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Elvetham in September 1591:
The Fairy Queen and her maides daunced about the garden, singing a Song of six parts,
with the musick of an exquisite consort; wherein was the lute, bandora, base-violl, citterne, treble viol and flute.
—from The Honourable Entertainment at Elvetham, anon., 1591.
To celebrate Valentine’s weekend, and to honor the approaching 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare, Early Music Now has invited the Baltimore Consort to bring their virtuosic exploration of songs and consort music from the Bard’s plays for a performance at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, February 13th at 5:00. Founded in 1980 specifically to research and perform music of Shakespeare’s time, the ensemble includes Mary Anne Ballard (viols), Mark Cudek (cittern and bass viol), Larry Lipkis (viol, recorder, krummhorn, gemshorn), Ronn McFarlane (lute), Mindy Rosenfeld (flutes, fifes, bagpipes), and Danielle Svonavec (soprano).
A perfect program to celebrate Valentine’s weekend, The Food of Love includes music from As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV, A Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, The Tempest, Othello, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Although Shakespeare’s plays do not include actual musical notation, the texts do provide hundreds of references to specific texts, as well as directions calling for the inclusion of music.
Shakespeare himself authored many of the lyrics, and musical settings have been created by composers throughout the centuries, notably Robert Jones, Thomas Morley, and John Dowland. Robert Johnson (c. 1583 – c. 1633), a lutenist known to have composed music for Shakepeare’s plays, will be represented by his setting of Full Fathom Five, known to have been sung in the original performance of The Tempest. Other songs on this program represent the earliest surviving versions that are contemporary with Shakespeare’s productions.
As the Baltimore Consort’s program notes explain:
. . . Elizabethan consort music, “reflected the remarkable synthesis of popular taste and humanist eloquence which gave vitality to the Shakespearean theatre” in appealing “to every level of spectator, from the simplest groundling who could hum along with his favorite ballad tune to the most sophisticated gallant who could take delight in the rich harmony and embroidery surrounding the melody” (from Sydney Beck’s introduction to his edition of Morley’s Consort Lessons).
The 5:00 concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 914 East Knapp Street on Saturday, February 13th, will be preceded by an artist lecture at 4:00, and will include an intermission reception.
Tickets can be purchased online at EarlyMusicNow.org, or by phone at 414.225.3113. Tier 1 seating is sold out. Tier 2 tickets are priced at $46 for adults/seniors and $15 for students. Tier 3 tickets are priced at $29 for adults/seniors and $10 for students.
Three-Concert Package Discount
A 20% discount is available for a package including this concert by the Baltimore Consort, the March 19 program of Persian music performed by Constantinople, and the April 16 concert of Renaissance choral music by Stile Antico. Order online at EarlyMusicNow.org no later than February 10.