One of the most fun things about attending an early music concert is getting the chance to see and hear instruments you might not have heard of before.

In our next concert, featuring secular love songs from medieval France, we’ll showcase the organetto — a portable pipe instrument similar to both an accordion and an organ that was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries.

We invited Charles Metz, who has a PhD in Historical Performance Practice from Washington University in St. Louis, to speak with us about the organetto in advance of the concert. While he has previously played harpsichord and continuo organ with the Consort, this will be his first time performing on organetto!

Below is our Q&A with Charles. You can catch his organetto debut with the Newberry Consort Feb. 16 to 18 for performances of Forbidden Love: The Passion of Héloïse & Abelard!

Q: Can you describe what an organetto is like and how you play it?
A: It is pumped with the hand while playing. The button-type keyboard is about two octaves, and the keys have the same arrangement as a modern keyboard. It plays one note at a time and is used for a single part in a polyphonic motet or chanson. The instrument will sit on my left knee, my left hand operates the bellows and my right hand pushes the buttons.

Q: What does the organetto sound like?
A: Its sound is a clear, flute-like pipe that blends well with other instruments.

Q: How were organettos used in the middle ages?
A: They were used in religious processions with the instrument fitted with a strap to carry it and it was used in secular monophonic dance music. It is special as it is one of the earliest instruments which later developed into the organ as we know it today. 

Q: You are an expert in the harpsichord. How did you get interested in playing the organetto?
A: I started out playing modern piano but switched in graduate school to harpsichord. I have been playing the harpsichord for 40 years and is the instrument I perform most. The organetto is a very special instrument only useful for medieval music. Because of my keyboard background I was asked to play it. This will be my debut!  

Q: What do you like about performing with the Newberry Consort?
A: The Newberry Consort is the premier Early Music ensemble of Chicago. Working with individuals that have great musicianship and have such a deep understanding of the music is always a learning experience for me that makes me a better musician. 

 

 

POSTPONED: April Fundraiser

Dear Valued Patrons,
We regret to share that due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to postpone our April 19th fundraising event, Ecco la Primavera. We expect to reschedule this event for a weekend between July and September – stay posted! Please know this decision does not reduce the Newberry Consort’s need for your support. Indeed, now more than ever, we hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us not only minimize the losses from this postponement but also contribute to our future events.

If you currently hold a ticket for this event, refunds are available upon request. Otherwise, the cost of your ticket will be applied to the rescheduled event. If you are a current ticket-holder for this event, Consort General Manager Hannah De Priest will be in touch with you directly very soon.
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 manager@newberryconsort.org 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.