For Immediate Release

Contact:     Beverly Simmons



The Church of the Covenant


Celestial Sirens: Music from Italian & Mexican Convents

The Newberry Consort, Ellen Hargis, director

March 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm

The Newberry Consort of Chicago performs Celestial Sirens, a program of music from 17th-century Mexican and Italian convents, on March 20th at 7:30 pm at The Church of the Covenant, 11205 Euclid Avenue in University Circle, to celebrate the Newberry Organ, now being installed in the historic church.

Ellen Hargis, director of the Newberry Consort, will lead an ensemble of eight women’s voices, organ, and viola da gamba, performing the music of Cozzolani, Tressina, Victoria, as well as repertoire from the “Newberry Choirbooks,” manuscripts from the Covento de l’Incarnación in Mexico City that are currently housed in the Newberry Library.

Celestial Sirens explores the musical traditions of cloistered nuns, who not only played and sang music by prominent male composers, but also composed music themselves. The luminous sound of the all-female choir was as wildly popular in the 17th century as it is today, often causing the nuns to be censured for their fame in the secular world. This program features works for small ensembles of two or three voices, as well as double-choir works for eight voices in the Venetian tradition, perfect for the resonant acoustics of the Church of the Covenant. Although the traditions are similar, the music reflects the compositional tastes of each culture. The Italian music is forward-looking, virtuosic, and highly expressive. The Mexican music has a joyous, dance-like use of syncopated rhythms reminiscent of popular song, and stretches the ranges of the singers to create fantastic sonic effects.

The renowned soprano Ellen Hargis, whose exquisite voice and expressive interpretations have been celebrated throughout the world, is beloved by Cleveland audiences from her appearances at Chapel, Court & Countryside, and the Lute Society of America Seminar; she has been a Kulas Visiting Artist at CWRU since 1999. The other singers are sopranos Elena Mullins, Sian Ricketts, and Josefien Stoppelenburg, and mezzo-sopranos Tracy Cowart, Debra Nagy, Beverly Simmons, and Angela Young-Smucker.

Built by Richards, Fowkes, and Company (of Ooltewah, Tennessee), the Newberry Organ is modeled after north German pipe organs from the late 17th-century with mechanical key and stop action, flexible winding, and historic tuning.

Playing the Newberry Organ, renowned early keyboard specialist Frances Fitch will accompany the ensemble and perform solos works. Katherine Shuldiner, a student of Catharina Meints at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, will play viola da gamba, another instrument common in convent music making.

General admission is $25; senior discount is $18; student tickets are $7. They are available in advance online and at the Church of the Covenant office. They will also be available at the door. Free parking is available; the venue is wheelchair accessible.


For more information, call 216-421-0482.


MAY PERFORMANCE CANCELLED - The Mistress: Madame de Pompadour (click for more information)

Dear Valued Patrons,
We regret to share that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not present The Mistress: Madame de Pompadour this May 8-10th. We currently plan to reschedule this project for a special performance in August 2020. We hope to share more details on that soon. In the meantime, current ticketholders for May performances of The Mistress can choose to hold their ticket(s) and use them for the rescheduled event, or receive a voucher for the cost to be used for future Consort events, donate the cost of their tickets as a tax-deductible charitable contribution, or request a refund. Please note that season pass holders will receive a percentage credit or refund. To confirm arrangements, contact General Manager Hannah De Priest at You can also leave a voicemail at 773-669-7335 and she will call you back.

You can always donate to the Newberry Consort online  or via check. Our mailing address is The Newberry Consort, P.O. Box 60212, Chicago, IL, 60660-0212. Please reach out to if you have any questions or leave a message at 773-669-7335 and one of our staff will be in touch with you.
We appreciate your understanding and very much look forward to welcoming you to Newberry Consort concerts in the future. Till then, wishing you all good health and safety in these uncertain times.