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‘Shakespeare’s Songbook’ OCA to present Toronto Consort’s early music

April 17, 2014   ·   0 Comments

The Toronto ConsortBy Constance Scrafield – One might wonder just what “early music” is and why a concert of it would be irresistible. The answer to the first is music from 1100 to about 1650 A.D.

The must-hear aspect of it would come with the excitement, innovation and passion on the part of the musicians who perform it.

This is the ensemble called Toronto Consort, coming to play at the Opera House on Friday of next week, April 25, presented by the Orangeville Concert Association as their last concert of its 2013-14 series.

To match the music they play, they perform with authentic period instruments – the lute, recorder, guitar – and the hurdy gurdy – early keyboards and percussion. Each of the nine musicians in the ensemble plays several instruments and loves the different feel of playing early music.

Think about the span of history that early music follows.

From the Mediaeval times into the Renaissance and, thence, to the great Baroque period , where the revolution of history and culture climbed its way out of the abyss of the Dark Ages into the brilliant epoch of the Renaissance.

It is during this expanse of more than 500 years that opera developed and grew. A few years ago, the Toronto Consort received a bequest which gave them the chance to perform several masterpieces of early operas as opera –in-concert.

They brought all three of the surviving Monteverdi (1567 -1643) operas to Toronto audiences, as well as La Calisto by Cavalli. As they delved into these early operas, they realised the wealth of the material that could be researched, even though most of it was not available as modern editions.

Nothing daunted, they engaged Charlotte Nediger to create an edition for them from the original sources.

All this with a view to continue the research and then performance of early opera.

The “rich, beloved repertoire of Tudor England” is another important part of Toronto Consort’s programming.

They were involved in recording music for the TV series, “The Tudors,” about the life of King Henry VIII.

For their upcoming concert here in Orangeville, Toronto Consort are performing a variety of early music from instrumental to singing a collection of pieces based on the work of Shakespeare.

Called the Shakespeare’s Songbook, the program includes, in part, music and song inspired by the poetry and writings of the Bard.

This program brings into our present day the kind of music that would have been heard by Shakespeare and the people of the time in Renaissance England.

Certainly, Shakespeare makes use of music in his plays and uses reference to music throughout his writing.

And, of course, if poetry is song-in-waiting, then surely he was one of the greatest lyricists of all.

Shakespeare wrote tragedy in plenty, of course, revelling in his villains, but he penned humour and satire with just as much gusto.

He was not shy of romance (albeit in a hurry) with its lustful appetites and all this is part of the music and delights of Toronto Consort’s upcoming concert.

It is the music he heard, the music included in his plays and that which he inspires that we will hear.

David Fallis, Artistic Director of Toronto Consort, is also Music Director for Opera Atelier, for which he also conducts their operas from time to time.

He is currently teaching in the Graduate Department at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

All the other eight members have similarly involved and creative lives, working in music on so many levels.

 

         

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