Newberry to present musical trip to Renaissance France

Matthew Dean

Contributing writer

A journey back in time to the 16th century will take place when the Newberry Consort presents the music of the royal courts of five influential French monarchs on Saturday at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts.

The concert, called “Le Jardin de Melodies,” is “at the core of the Newberry kingdom: a time machine running on scholarship and musicality with the best company imaginable . . .,” said Matthew Dean, director of Rockefeller and Bond Chapels since 2014, and vocal artist-in-residence since 2005. He will be a member of the vocal ensemble at the concert – one of the five singers who will be featured.

“The heart of what I do as musician and curator is bringing art that reflects on our current moment to life for students and community,” he said.

“Le Jardin” focuses on music that was popular among the kings of the Valois dynasty, along with tunes that were performed in the city and countryside during their reign

The program brings together raucous dance music, ceremonial tunes, ballads for solo voice and polyphonic music for voices, which reveal the richness of the French Renaissance repertoire.

David Douglass, co-artistic director of Newberry, first explored the music in the mid-90s as director of the King’s Noyse. He was co-partner of the Voix de Ville repertory, a term that later became vaudeville. Voix de ville would have been performed by a violin band in the court of Charles IX in 1570s France.

Douglass is eager to return to the same era in the upcoming program.

“I think audiences will love getting a glimpse of what life was like both for the royals and the commoners in Renaissance France, and they’ll really enjoy both the elegant songs as well as the more rollicking dance tunes we’ve included,” he said.

Tickets at Logan, 915 East 60th Street, are $40-$50. Students tickets are $5 at the door. The program starts at 8 p.m.

A pre-concert chat will be held 30 minutes before the concert.