Newberry Consort celebrates 30 years

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The Newberry Consort is celebrating its 30th anniversary season filled with programs that range from the music of Shakespeare and Medieval Germany to music celebrating a 17th-century Swedish queen.

The Newberry Consort will be presenting a concert, on Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St., featuring the music of German composer Oswald von Wolkenstein.

Born circa 1377, Wolkenstein was a nobleman and knight who traveled throughout Western and Eastern Europe and the Holy Land during the crusades. He was also a poet and a composer who wrote songs about his travels, religion, and love.

The show will feature a multimedia slideshow featuring the original manuscripts of the music, as well supertitles. Special guests include Mary Springfels and Drew Minter, founding members of the consort, who will join the ensemble of early harps, fiddles, winds, and voices.

The Newberry Consort uses multimedia slideshows to enhance the music and so that the audience according to David Douglass Co-Artistic Director of the Newberry Library can appreciate all the foreign and early Medieval languages.

Co-Director Ellen Hargis said the multimedia slideshows were added on to the concerts about three to four years ago so that members of the audience could read and listen to the music simultaneously.

“We came up with a way of projecting supertitles, but more than that adding images from the period that show actual pictures of people doing the things that we’re talking about in the pieces,” Hargis said. “By doing that, it’s like sitting in the middle of an art gallery or museum and looking at a scene of what’s being sung about. It’s a complete sensory experience.”

Douglass says the consort is one of a kind and stands out amongst other early music ensembles and he ties that to their longevity and success as an ensemble.

“For our audience, we try to make it very accessible experience by providing a lot of contexts so that people can understand how that music fits into its own time rather than just trying to make it come alive today in our modern times,” Douglass said.

Founded in 1986, the Newberry Consort is based in Chicago and has spent the last 30 years inspiring audiences by bringing little-known works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods to life through engaging educational concerts.

The Consort regularly performs at the Newberry Library, the University of Chicago (U. of C.), Northwestern University and other venues worldwide. The Newberry Consort has recorded several albums and has collaborated with local and international musicians including Rachel Barton Pine, Marion Verbruggen, and Paul O’Dette.

Affiliated with the Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies, the Consort also serves as an ensemble-in-residence at both the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In addition to an annual concert series in Chicago, the Consort has an active touring schedule.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14. Ticket prices range from $35-$45 dollars student tickets are $5 at the door with a valid student ID. To find our more information about future concert dates visit newberryconsort.org.

t.hill@hpherald.com