23/24 Season Artist
Danielle Svonavec soprano
Mindy Rosenfeld winds
Mary Anne Ballard viols
Larry Lipkis viols and recorders
Mark Cudek cittern
Ronn McFarlane lute
Robert Aubry Davis narrator
The Baltimore Consort was founded to perform instrumental music of Shakespeare’s time. Although later joined by a singer, the group’s experience of rehearsing purely instrumentally forged its identity as an ensemble dedicated to exploiting the diverse sound colors offered by gut- and wire-strung, plucked and bowed strings, and transverse and end-blown flutes and recorders, capped reeds and percussion.
Shakespeare’s music tapped into the popular repertory of the Elizabethan period—the tunes heard in taverns, on street corners, in the theater, and accompanying dancing. Thomas Morley’s The First Book of Consort Lessons (1599), together with the manuscript part-books of Matthew Holmes, are the ‘mother’ sources for consort arranging in that time, and thus provide the music which the Baltimore Consort initially performed.
Realizing that these sources demonstrated arranging techniques which could then be applied to other early tunes, the Consort began its journey through the popular music of England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, as well as into the traditional music of today that is rooted in earlier times.
Having expanded upon the musical arrangements of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the Consort nevertheless enjoys returning to its origins—the English music for broken consort. The music of that time is an inspiration and joy, just as it was for listeners in 1600, as witnessed by a poem on the power of music by Richard Edwards (partially quoted in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet act iv, scene 5):
Where gripinge grefes the hart woula wounde,
ana dolefulle dumps the mynde oppresse,
There Musick with her silver sound
is wont with spede to give redresse.
Of troublea minde for every sore,
swete Musick hath a salve therfore.