Crouching Dragon, Hidden Viol: Music for a Chinese Banquet
In the seventeenth century the enlightened Emperor Kangxi opened the doors of the Forbidden City to Jesuit missionaries. They gave the Chinese gifts of medicine, mathematics, and music. Kangxi learned to play the harpsichord, and his successor Qianlong maintained a small orchestra of eunuchs who dressed in European costume and played Baroque music. The period was one of true cultural exchange.The great Jesuit painter Castiglione forged a true Sino-European painting style, and Chinoiserie became the rage in Western Europe. While we will not pursue the extremes of authentic performance — sorry, no orchestra of eunuchs — Newberry Consort regulars Drew Minter, David Schrader, and Mary Springfels join Chinese traditional musicians Betti Xiang and Wei Yang to reconstruct an evening of chamber music, Eastern and Western, which might have been heard in the Imperial Chambers of the Forbidden City.
The English Sparrows: A Diaspora of Musicians
For reasons of religion and restlessness, John Dowland, Thomas Simpson, William Brade, and Peter Phillips followed in the footsteps of itinerant English actors in the early seventeenth century, leaving their native land to wander from court to court in hopes of finding a safe haven. Spending time in Denmark, the German States, and the Low Countries, these esteemed English players and composers left their mark on their homes of exile, creating music of great richness and vitality. Soprano Ellen Hargis, violinist David Douglass, and gambist Mary Springfels complement Parthenia, a superb viola da gamba ensemble based in New York.
Legends of the Nine Worthies: A Tapestry of Medieval Heroism
Medieval poets, artists, and musicians drew upon tales of valor from the Classical tradition, the Bible, and their contemporary history and mythology to produce a fascinating array of art and song. John, Duke of Berry, commissioned a set of woven “portraits” of the Nine Worthies — three figures from each period — who were taken to be the ideal embodiment of chivalry. (These tapestries are a treasure of the Medieval collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.) The Newberry Consort and the ensemble Trefoil perform sagas and songs from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries which movingly evoke the heroic past. Featuring instrumentalists David Douglass, Mark Rimple, and Mary Springfels, with countertenor Drew Minter and soprano Marcia Young.
Tender Mercies: Bad Luck, Bad Behavior, and Forgiveness
Medieval and Renaissance Europe hoarded a treasure-trove of legends honoring the divine intercession of the Mother of God. No matter how feckless or sinful, a true believer could count on her understanding. The Washington, DC-based Folger Consort together with the Newberry Consort perform French, Spanish, and German music by Gautier de Coincy, Alfonso “el Sabio,” Hans Sachs, and others. Violinist Bob Eisenstein, lutenist Christopher Kendall, and soprano Anne Monoyios of the Folger Consort join Newberry regulars Mary Springfels and Grant Herreid. (Always listen to your mother!)
Special Benefit Evening
Playford’s Delight: A Dance for the Newberry Consort
Dance away the excesses of Thanksgiving to the delicious melodies collected by John Playford at the end of the seventeenth century! Not to worry, your steps will be guided by Gene Morrow, one of the great American experts in English country dance. David Douglass will lead the Newberry Consort Dance Band; wine and light refreshments will be served, at this benefit for the consort.