It’s not often that you hear about celebrities endorsing early music. That’s why it’s especially exciting that Chicago-based author Sara Paretsky, famous for her V.I. Warshawski detective novels, will be participating in our next concert, happening March 3 to 5.
A long-time fan of the Newberry Consort, Paretsky will serve as the narrator for the performance, which will feature a musical journey of the life of Queen Christina of Sweden, who lived from 1626 to 1689 and was a eccentric, gender-bending iconoclast far ahead of her time.
And, if you’re a fan of Paretsky’s, you can also have the chance to win a signed copy of her book, ”Windy City Blues,” as well as and lunch with her and two of your friends at a restaurant in Hyde Park in the auction at our Gala Fundraiser on March 5.
We caught up with Paretsky recently to ask her about her connection to the Newberry Consort, why she loves early music, and why she’s proud to let people learn more about Queen Christina’s legacy.
Q: How long have you been a fan of the Newberry Consort?
A: I have a long-standing connection to the Newberry Library and I saw the Consort… when they were first beginning. I came for the first four or five seasons and then didn’t come for quite a few years, but the Consort gave me a love for early music and I continued to follow it in different venues both in the states and in England.
Q: What do you like about the Newberry Consort?
A: I love the obvious joy that Ellen Hargis and other consort members bring to their performances. As someone who enjoys hearing music but is not a musician, I’m fascinated by the many different instruments the ensemble uses and the virtuosity of the performers in moving among all these different wind and string instruments.
Q: What do you like about Early Music?
A: As a listener, I respond to what feels to me to be a clarity of form and direction to the music.
Q: How did you get involved with being the narrator for this concert and what are you looking forward to about being part of the performance?
A: Ellen approached me, I think after seeing me perform in an amateur musical that we put on every year at the Quadrangle Club on the University of Chicago campus (the Revels, where I am typecast as an older woman who thinks she sings better than she does. I usually play a Florence Foster Jenkins kind of character). I’m very excited about the chance to perform with the concert, but I also hope that I can perform at the professional level that all of the members themselves do.
Q: What has impressed you about Queen Christina?
A: I’m reading a biography of her by Veronica Buckley. She was in some ways and erratic and even irresponsible, but she had great strength of character and was masterly at navigating the political and social thickets of the 17th century. For a woman of that stature to pursue her own wishes and desires against a vast array of male power figures is quite extraordinary.
Q: What can people today learn from Queen Christina?
A: If you have a goal that truly matters to you, when you need to, be willing to invest time and effort in designing strategies to meet the goal.