Performance Archive

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View concert descriptions of our past seasons by clicking on a title below

2019-20 Season

The Empress: Margarita Teresa

18, 19, 20 October 2019

The Empress, our 2019-20 season opener, is a program of operatic excerpts and instrumental dance suites composed in honor of Empress Margarita Teresa of Spain (1651-1673.) A stellar string band and vocal soloists will perform excerpts from Antonio Cesti’s Il Pomo d’Oro, which was originally written to celebrate the marriage of Margarita to Emperor Leopold I. The program will also include instrumental interludes by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623-1680) and scenes from a hilarious intermezzo, Orfeo, supposedly composed by Emperor Leopold I himself.


Featured vocalists:
Ellen Hargis, soprano & co-director
Salome Sandoval, soprano
Allison Selby Cook, mezzo-soprano
Oliver Camacho, tenor
Eric Miranda, baritone

Featured instrumentalists:
David Douglass, violin & co-director
Allison Monroe, violin
Daniel Elyar, viola
Brandi Berry Benson, viola
Jeremy David Ward, bass violin
Charles Metz, harpsichord
Brandon Acker, theorbo & guitar
Daniel Swenberg, theorbo & guitar

With projections by Shawn Keener


A Mexican Christmas

Special Holiday Event

6, 7, 8 December 2019

Journey with us to 17th-century Mexico City, where the sonorous singing of nuns wafts into the city’s Zócolo (main plaza) and a band of villanciqueros (folk musicians) plays the jubilant music of the Christmas season. Featuring over thirty singers and instrumentalists, A Mexican Christmas is a wholly fresh and original holiday concert that celebrates the exuberant and diverse musical traditions of Mexico.

Convent Ensemble:
Ellen Hargis, soprano & co-director
Margaret Carpenter Haigh, soprano
Salomé Sandoval, soprano
Lucía Mier Y Teran Romero, soprano
Elena Mullins, soprano
Allison Selby Cook, alto
Beverly Simmons, alto
Candace Smith, alto
Rachel Begley, bajón
Claire Happel Ashe, harp
Frances Conover Fitch, organ
Katherine Shuldiner, viola da gamba

Villancico Band
featuring EnsAmble Ad-Hoc & artists from the Newberry Consort
Francy Acosta, soprano & co- director
Jose Luis Posada, guitars & co-director
Carolina Gómez, soprano 
Amaranta Flores-Gualtieri, soprano
Magaly Cordero, alto
Nythia Martinez, alto
Matthew Dean, tenor
Eric Miranda, baritone
Camilo Rasquin, baritone
Brandon Acker, baroque guitar
Raúl Fernández, jarana
Patricio Leija, leona
Zacbe Pichardo, harp
Javier Saume, percussion
Brandi Berry Benson, violin
David Douglass, violin


The Marchesa: Isabella d’Este

A co-production with Piffaro

7, 8, 9 February 2020

This program honors the great Isabella d’Este, a politician, mother, taste-maker, musician, writer, art collector, and one of the most important patrons of the Italian Renaissance. These concerts feature the frottole, an Italian song form that propagated at Isabella d’Este’s Mantuan court. Isabella commissioned her favorite poets and composers including Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521), Bartolomeo Tromboncino (d. 1534) and Marco Cara (d. 1525) to craft these short, amorous songs, which she herself enjoyed performing. Soprano Ellen Hargis gives voice to this sensual Italian poetry accompanied by a variety of Renaissance instruments, including guitar, lute, shawms, recorders, and strings.

Featured vocalists:
Ellen Hargis, soprano & co-director

Featured instrumentalists:
David Douglass, violin & co-director
Tim Macdonald, violin
Brandi Berry Benson, viola
Allison Monroe, viola
Jeremy David Ward, bass violin
Brandon Acker, lute & guitar

Members of Piffaro, The Renaissance Band:
Joan Kimball, co-director
Bob Wiemken, co-director
Grant Herreid
Priscilla Herreid
Greg Ingalls
Eric Schmalz
learn more about Piffaro

With projections by Shawn Keener


Note: Our performance season was cut short due to the pandemic COVID-19. The Mistress: Madame de Pompadour was not presented as a result.


2018-19 Season

Will Kemp Returns: a Jigs Revival

Featuring Steve Player with violin band, lute and guitar, pipe and tabor, bagpipe and costumes by Meriem Bahri.

OCTOBER 19, 8 pm Ruggles Hall – doors open 7:15 pm
Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610

OCTOBER 20, 8 pm International House – doors open 7:15 pm
The University of Chicago, 1414 E 59th St, Chicago, IL 60637

OCTOBER 21, 3 pm Galvin Recital Hall – doors open 2:15 pm
Northwestern University Campus, 70 Arts Cir Dr, Evanston, IL 60208

Special Holiday Event*

A Mexican Christmas: Angels in the Convent, Dancing in the Streets

Imagine yourself in 17th-century Mexico City. It’s Christmas and the glorious singing of cloistered nuns soars over the walls of their convent and fills the square. On the other side of the plaza, a street band plays villancicos — joyful folk music of praise and celebration.

This sumptuous program will feature a choir of women’s voices, directed by Ellen Hargis, singing the music of the convent, as well as musicians from EnsAmble Ad-Hoc, a group that specializes in Latin American and Spanish early music led by specialists Francy Acosta and Jose Luis Posada. These musicians will create the rich, jubilant folk music that would have been heard in the plazas at Christmas.

DECEMBER 14, 8 pm St. Clement Church,
642 W Deming Pl, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL 60614

DECEMBER 15, 8 pm Bond Chapel, The University of Chicago,
1050 E 59th St, Chicago, IL 60637

DECEMBER 16, 3 pm First United Methodist Church,
516 Church St, Evanston, IL 60201


What’s Old is New:
The Leuven Chansonnier

Newly-discovered 15th century masterpieces in a co-production with Les Délices, co-directed by Debra Nagy, featuring voices, winds, and strings.
Pre-concert lectures will take place 30 mins prior to each performance. For these concerts, the lecturers will be Debra Nagy and Shawn Keener.
Total concert time is around 80 minutes. There will be no intermission.

JANUARY 11, 8 pm Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610
JANUARY 12, 8 pm Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
JANUARY 13, 3 pm Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University Campus, 70 Arts Cir Dr, Evanston, IL 60208


Le Jardin de Mélodies: 
A Parisian Renaissance Entertainment

Come experience the vibrant dance music and elegant tunes that inspired generations of French royals. Le Jardin de Mélodies is curated and directed by David Douglass, features an all-star Renaissance violin band, including world-famous lutenists Paul O’Dette and Charles Weaver, as well as a full vocal consort, led by soprano and Consort co-artistic director Ellen Hargis! 

Presented in partnership with the
Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies

APRIL 5, 8 pm Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610
APRIL 6, 8 pm Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
APRIL 7, 3 pm Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University Campus, 70 Arts Cir Dr, Evanston, IL 60208

2017-18 Season

Feeling the Love

Join us for another fabulous season! New this year, we’ll feature supertitles and graphics projections at all programs.  Enjoy complimentary wine and cabaret seating at Ruggles Hall, and see us at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership for our season opener as part of our Downtown Concert Series. We are also excited to be back at Galvin Recital Hall and The Logan Center.
Pre-concert discussions are included with your ticket and begin 30 minutes prior to each concert.

Sacred Love

Songs of the Sephardim with guest curator Nell Snaidas

Music of faith and longing from Renaissance Spain and the Ladino oral tradition of the Sephardic Jews. Presented in partnership with Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies and Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.


  • Friday Nov. 3 at 8pm, Galvin Recital Hall
  • Saturday Nov. 4 at 8pm, The Logan Center
  • Sunday Nov. 5 at 3pm, Spertus Institute for Learning and Leadership

Forbidden Love

the Passion of Héloïse and Abelard

For Valentine’s Day! Two costumed actors portray the famous lovers, performing excerpts from their amorous letters while the Consort plays and sings medieval love songs.


  • Friday Feb. 16 at 8pm, Ruggles Hall SOLD OUT
  • Saturday Feb 17 at 8pm, The Logan Center
  • Sunday Feb 18 at 3pm, Galvin Recital Hall

Dangerous Love

Playing with Fire

Dazzling virtuoso music from 17th c. Italy explores the world of love and war. Singers, violins, and a colorful continuo band turn up the heat.


  • Friday April 27 at 8pm, Ruggles Hall
  • Saturday April 28 at 8pm, The Logan Center
  • Sunday April 29 at 3pm, Galvin Recital Hall

2016-17 Thirtieth Anniversary Season

The Clown – Kemp’s Jig

The Jigs are coming to town! Jigs, comic Elizabethan musical skits, were a wildly popular kind of early street theater. Special guest Steve Player joins us from England to portray Will Kemp, Shakespeare’s clown and dancer extraordinaire, and to lead our troupe in these comic gems.

Complete with costumes and sets, a violin band, lute and guitar, these Jigs promise plenty of bawdy songs, athletic dance, and theatrical shenanigans.


Special Guest
Steve Player, dancer, singer, guitar (read our recent interview)
Violin Band
David Douglass, violin
Tim Macdonald, violin
Brandi Berry, viola
Jeremy Ward, bass violin
Brandon Acker, lute and guitar*
Ellen Hargis, soprano
Corey Shotwell, tenor
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone
*Young Artist Mentorship Program Participant

The Count – Music of Oswald von Wolkenstein

About the Program

Put down your program, sit back, and relax! Enjoy the gorgeous vocal and instrumental music by this 14th Century German nobleman, knight, and world traveler. Our multi-media performance features our trademark lavish visual displays, with supertitles included so you won’t miss one poetic foot!

Special guests Consort founding director Mary Springfels and founding member Drew Minter join our ensemble of early harps, fiddles, winds and voices for this very special medieval extravaganza.


(view our Artist page for full bios)
Special Guests
Mary Springfels, vielle, gittern,
and Drew Minter, voice, harp

David Douglass, rebec and vielle
Ellen Hargis, voice
Allison Monroe, vielle and rebec *
Debra Nagy, voice, harp, winds
*Young Artist Mentorship Program Participant

pre-concert chat 30 minutes before the concert

The Queen:

Christina of Sweden: the Girl King

About the Program

A musical history of the life of the amazing Queen Christina, one of Europe’s great eccentrics, from her childhood and reign in Sweden to her abdication and life in Rome. We’ll perform music written for or heard by her by the many illustrious composers she knew, including Lully, Carissimi, Corelli, and Cesti, performed by singers, violins, and a rich continuo band of keyboards, theorbo, guitar, and lirone.

Readings from contemporary accounts and her letters by special guest Chicago-based author Sara Paretsky, Narrator.


(view our Artist page for full bios)

Ellen Hargis, soprano
Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor*
Sara Paretsky, narrator
David Douglass and Brandi Berry, violins
Jeremy Ward, bass violin
Christopher Bagan and Charles Metz, organ and harpsichord
Lucas Harris, theorbo
Erin Headley, lirone and viola da gamba

*Young Artist Mentorship Program Participant


Music of Johann Rosenmüller

October 9-11, 2015

Le Roman de Fauvel

January 8–10, 2016

Juan de Lienas Vespers

Back by popular demand, with newly-edited music from the Newberry Choirbooks

April 8–10, 2016



November | Series I:

¡Música Barocca Mexicana!: Music from the Cathedral Archives of Durango, Mexico

March | Series II:

Music from the World of Copernicus: Continuing our exploration of early Polish music, co-directed by audience favorite Tom Zajac

April | Series III:

Mr. Dowland’s Midnight: Superstar lutenist Paul O’Dette joins the Consort for this evening at an Elizabethan blues club.


Series 1:

Playing with Fire: virtuoso music from the 16th and 17th centuries The Howard Mayer Brown Memorial Concert

Series 2:

The Feast of the Pheasant: a 15th-century Burgundian banquet

Series 3:

Celestial Sirens: music from the Mexican Convent of the Encarnación


Beautiful Dreamer: The Music of Lincoln’s America

Beautiful Dreamer ThumbnailIn conjunction with an exhibition coming to the Newberry Library from the Library of Congress, With Malice toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition, we present rarely-heard music from 1860s America: popular songs, minstrel music, and country music, as well as the spectacular art music of America’s first bona fide virtuosos, Louis Gottschalk and William Morris. The program of stories, songs, and minstrel comic acts will bring Lincoln’s America to life.

Stravaganze! The Virtuoso Violinists

Stravaganze! ThumbnailHear the premier collaboration of the internationally acclaimed artists and Chicago celebrities David Douglass, Rachel Barton-Pine, and David Schrader in a program of virtuosic music for violins and harpsichord. The violinists and composers Biagio Marini, Marco Uccelini, and Giovanni Fontana were just a few of the superstars of the 17th century who brought audiences to their feet with displays of musical fireworks and heartfelt emotion.

By a Celestial Fountain: The Music of William Byrd

By a Celestial Fountain ThumbnailOur second annual Howard Mayer Brown Memorial concert features the Newberry Consort of Viols, along with the Newberry Consort Singers. No Elizabethan composer is more revered than William Byrd, who labored to preserve his art at a time of tremendous adversity. He earned the favor and protection of Queen Elizabeth I, as he earns our admiration and respect so many centuries later, by composing music of thrilling invention and compelling beauty. Howard Mayer Brown, an avid amateur viol player, particularly enjoyed Byrd’s music, and we honor his memory in a program of Howard’s favorites played on instruments from his collection.

Special Events

Emerging Artists Perform: The Music of Heinrich Ignaz Biber

The Music of Heinrich Ignaz Biber ThumbnailThe Newberry Consort’s second annual Emerging Artists Concert features Northwestern University’s Baroque Music Ensemble in a colorful concert of vocal and instrumental chamber music composed by the brilliant 17th-century composer Heinrich Ignaz Biber.

Music Hath Charms: Disease and Disability in Music

Music Hath Charms ThumbnailIn conjunction with the Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies’ Symposium on Disease and Disability in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Newberry Consort director David Douglass, along with soprano Ellen Hargis, harpsichordist David Schrader, and viola da gambist Craig Trompeter will present a special program on how people coped with illness through the power of music, from the depths of melancholy to a comic depiction of a gall bladder operation.

Fair Orianna: An Early Movie with Music

Fair Orianna ThumbnailA special offering by the Newberry Consort for the first Chicago Early Music Festival, our early movie with early music was a smash hit as our benefit concert last season. This time around soprano Ellen Hargis joins the Newberry Consort of Viols as they accompany the classic feature film with Sarah Bernhardt as Elizabeth I.


Handel in Miniature

George Frideric Handel was a consummate showman, able to write music that was both intellectually stimulating and easily accessible, and one of the few composers to remain consistently popular from his era of the early eighteenth century to our own. The respect for his work that is held in the eyes of performers and musicologists is dwarfed only by his appeal to the public at large, entirely through his ability to write music of astonishing beauty. The Newberry Consort will present some of Handel’s greatest hits, in miniature, through the artistry of Dutch recorder virtuosa Marion Verbruggen, Baroque Diva Ellen Hargis, Handel specialist and Newberry audience favorite Drew Minter, harpsichord wizard David Schrader, and Consort Director and gambist David Douglass.

What a Difference a Day Makes: Venetian Music for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

Party hearty with the shawms, bagpipes, and carnival songs of Renaissance Venice, and then bask in the exquisite beauty of penitential music for Lent. Join the musicians of the Renaissance wind band Piffarro, along with David Douglass and the Newberry Consort Singers (Ellen Hargis, Julia Bentley, Harold Brock, Jeffrey Strauss, and Wilbur Pauley), in our inaugural concert celebrating the life and work of musicologist and mentor Howard Mayer Brown in some of the most gorgeous and resonant spaces in the Chicago area.

Ecco la Primavera: The Music of Francesco Landini

Francesco Landini, the blind Florentine composer, poet, organist, singer and instrument maker, was one of the musical giants of fourteenth century. His innovative work brought us a giant step toward the music of the Renaissance, but it also painted a picture of the Italian society of his day. His song Ecco la Primavera celebrates the arrival of Spring, and on the first weekend of Spring we travel back to Landini’s Florence with songs and dances of love and lust. This concert features Ellen Hargis, soprano, Judith Malefronte, mezzo-soprano, and Aaron Sheehan, tenor, with instrumentalists David Douglass, Tom Zajac, and violin virtuosa Rachel Barton Pine making her Chicago debut on two of the violin’s quirky ancestors: vielle and rebec.

Arcadia Revisited: A Garden of Earthly Delights

In the wake of fires, famine, war, and the beheading of their king, seventeenth-century Londoners sought solace in the utopian pastoral fantasy they called Arcadia. The beautiful music of Henry and William Lawes, Nicholas Lanier, John Wilson, and Henry Purcell spun stories of mythological drama and frolicking comedy that entertained nobles and commoner alike. Featuring David Douglass, violin, viola, and viol; Ellen Hargis, soprano; Grant Herreid, lute and guitar; Shira Kammen, violin, viola, and viol; and Craig Trompeter, viol and bass violin.

Special Benefit Concert

Fair Oriana – A Party for Queen Elizabeth I Upon the 450th Anniversary of Her Coronation

Support the Consort and enjoy a concert of English viol consort music with wine and light refreshments, concluding with the 1912 silent movie classic Queen Elizabeth, to which the Newberry Consort will provide the music. Starring an aging but peppy Sarah Bernhardt, this film is shot mostly from afar, as she poses and flings her arms about and seemingly overacts. But watch Bernhardt’s face, strain to hear her absent voice, and you can see what a powerhouse she must have been on stage. She herself claimed to be pleased with the result, crying: “I am immortal! I am a film!”


Shakespeare’s Songbook

William Shakespeare loved music, and used it both in the background, to establish a mood, and up front as an entertaining diversion. He also made frequent reference to popular music in his dialogue to manipulate the emotions of his audience. Come hear the art songs, ballads, and dance tunes that gave the patrons of the Globe Theatre a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s plays. Join Ross W. Duffin, author of Shakespeare’s Songbook, as he discusses Shakespeare at the pre-concert lecture.

Directed by David Douglass, violin and viola de gamba, with Paul O’Dette, lute, cittern, and theorbo; Ellen Hargis, soprano; and William Hite, tenor.

Journey to Bethlehem: 17th-century German Music for Advent and Christmas

The story of Christmas is so familiar that its true meaning is best revealed when it’s set to ravishingly beautiful music. Come hear a program of tunes you very likely know, but in settings you’ve never heard before. We’ll celebrate the story of the birth of Jesus with the glorious colors of historical brass, recorders, reeds, strings, organ, and voices in the lush and resonant acoustics of St. Clement Church and Millar Chapel.

Performers include David Douglass, violin, and William Porter, organ, with the Newberry Consort Singers: Ellen Hargis, soprano; Julia Bentley, alto; Harold Brock, tenor; and Jeffery Strauss, bass. The Whole Noyse will also perform, including Stephen Escher, cornetto and recorder; D. Sanford Stadtfeld, sackbut and recorder; Herbert Myers, dulcian, recorder, and viola; and Richard Van Hessel, sackbut, recorder, and gittern.

Performances will be held at St. Clement Church, 642 West Deming Place, Chicago. This magnificent Romanesque church just off Fullerton Parkway and Halsted Street in Lincoln Park has the perfect ambiance and acoustics for this concert. Ample parking is available.

The Play of Robin and Marion, and Medieval French Songs of Love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we present a medieval debate on the subject of love. Like the troubadours, trouvères sang the stories of their lives in elegant and touching verse. The centerpiece of this poetic debate is Le Jeu de Robin and Marion by trouvère Adam de la Halle. This first account of the romance of Robin and Marion is semi-staged and set to the improvised accompaniment of lutes, fiddles, flutes, recorders and percussion.

Directed by David Douglass, vielle and rebec, with Mark Rimple, lute; Tom Zajac, flute and percussion; Ellen Hargis, soprano; and Drew Minter, countertenor.

Españoleta! Danzas y Bailes

Body language, like music, can tell a story in the most immediate and visceral way. A thrilling finale to the Newberry Consort Series, this program presents diverse music from seventeenth-century Spain and Latin America. Dancers in full Baroque costume tell their tales of seduction in tarantelas, canarios, folias and more in this unique program full of dazzling rhythms and Latin spice.

Directed by David Douglass, violin, with the Chatham Baroque, whose members include Julie Andrijeski, violin; Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba; Scott Pauley, guitar & theorbo; Danny Mallon, percussion; and Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Thomas Baird, Baroque dancers.

Benefit Concerts

Off the Record: An Afternoon With Ellen Hargis and Paul O’Dette

Ellen Hargis and Paul O’Dette offer an unforgettable afternoon of dazzling music-making and behind-the-scenes tales of their international performing careers, all in an intimate cabaret setting with wine and light refreshments. Ellen and Paul will perform favorite selections from their popular touring programs, and promise to include some of the special encores for which they’ve become famous. Support the Consort and get to know the “Baroque-music diva” (The New Yorker) who is acclaimed a “National musical treasure” (Continuo) and the virtuoso lutenist who has been described as “the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument.” (Toronto Globe and Mail).


Harmonies of the Hemispheres: Devotions & Dreams of Spain and Mexico

A grand kick-off, to coincide with the opening of a major exhibit on the Aztecs in colonial Mexico! Hear both the realities and fantasies of New Spain, featuring songs and hymns from the Library’s precious seventeenth century Mexican choir books in Latin, Spanish, and Aztec. A special Friday matinee performance (in lieu of an open rehearsal) will take place at Chicago’s Mexican Fine Arts Center. Performers include David Douglass, violin, and Mary Springfels, viola da gamba, with Drew Minter leading the vocal ensemble.

Time Stands Still: Reflections of Elizabethan England

The Elizabethans were obsessed with mutability and caprice; the concept of time — the alchemy of change — infuses their music and literature. This program presents songs reflecting time and its effect on the Elizabethan psyche as well as instrumental works which explore the interplay of time in music. With David Douglass, violin; Craig Trompeter and Mary Springfels, viola da gamba; Grant Herreid, lute; and Ellen Hargis, soprano.

A Portrait of Renaissance Brughes

The lovely city of Brughes was the commercial heart of the Duchy of Burgundy. In the fifteenth century, it became one of the cornerstones upon which the edifice of modern venture capitalism was built. The newly wealthy investors were quick to become arts patrons: They commissioned marvelous portraits and devotional paintings by the city’s greatest artists, and sponsored the composition of exquisite and intricate polyphonic music. A Franco-Flemish feast for the ears! With David Douglass and Mary Springfels, strings; Drew Minter, Mark Rimple, James Ruff, and Richard Wistreich, voice.

Imperial Entertainments: Music for the Holy Roman Emperors

Three generations of Habsburg emperors (Ferdinand II, Leopold I, and Joseph I) were not only lovers of music but composers themselves. Their patronage created a lush atmosphere and rich background for all manner of musical expression in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Hear cantatas and arias by Antonio Caldara, Heinrich Ignatz von Biber, and Giovanni Legrenzi sung by Drew Minter and Ellen Hargis. Several special guests will join them, along with David Douglass, Mary Springfels, and Richard Wistreich, for a spirited conclusion to the season.

Special Benefit Evening

Playford’s Further Delight: A Dance redux for the Newberry Consort

Back by popular demand — music and dance, wine and beer! Get into the holiday spirit with a lively afternoon of English country dancing. Once again, your steps will be guided by one of the great American experts in the field, Gene Murrow. David Douglass will lead the Newberry Consort Dance Band, and light refreshments will be served at this bawdy benefit for the Consort.


Crouching Dragon, Hidden Viol: Music for a Chinese Banquet

In the seventeenth century the enlightened Emperor Kangxi opened the doors of the Forbidden City to Jesuit missionaries. They gave the Chinese gifts of medicine, mathematics, and music. Kangxi learned to play the harpsichord, and his successor Qianlong maintained a small orchestra of eunuchs who dressed in European costume and played Baroque music. The period was one of true cultural exchange.The great Jesuit painter Castiglione forged a true Sino-European painting style, and Chinoiserie became the rage in Western Europe. While we will not pursue the extremes of authentic performance — sorry, no orchestra of eunuchs — Newberry Consort regulars Drew Minter, David Schrader, and Mary Springfels join Chinese traditional musicians Betti Xiang and Wei Yang to reconstruct an evening of chamber music, Eastern and Western, which might have been heard in the Imperial Chambers of the Forbidden City.

The English Sparrows: A Diaspora of Musicians

For reasons of religion and restlessness, John Dowland, Thomas Simpson, William Brade, and Peter Phillips followed in the footsteps of itinerant English actors in the early seventeenth century, leaving their native land to wander from court to court in hopes of finding a safe haven. Spending time in Denmark, the German States, and the Low Countries, these esteemed English players and composers left their mark on their homes of exile, creating music of great richness and vitality. Soprano Ellen Hargis, violinist David Douglass, and gambist Mary Springfels complement Parthenia, a superb viola da gamba ensemble based in New York.

Legends of the Nine Worthies: A Tapestry of Medieval Heroism

Medieval poets, artists, and musicians drew upon tales of valor from the Classical tradition, the Bible, and their contemporary history and mythology to produce a fascinating array of art and song. John, Duke of Berry, commissioned a set of woven “portraits” of the Nine Worthies — three figures from each period — who were taken to be the ideal embodiment of chivalry. (These tapestries are a treasure of the Medieval collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.) The Newberry Consort and the ensemble Trefoil perform sagas and songs from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries which movingly evoke the heroic past. Featuring instrumentalists David Douglass, Mark Rimple, and Mary Springfels, with countertenor Drew Minter and soprano Marcia Young.

Tender Mercies: Bad Luck, Bad Behavior, and Forgiveness

Medieval and Renaissance Europe hoarded a treasure-trove of legends honoring the divine intercession of the Mother of God. No matter how feckless or sinful, a true believer could count on her understanding. The Washington, DC-based Folger Consort together with the Newberry Consort perform French, Spanish, and German music by Gautier de Coincy, Alfonso “el Sabio,” Hans Sachs, and others. Violinist Bob Eisenstein, lutenist Christopher Kendall, and soprano Anne Monoyios of the Folger Consort join Newberry regulars Mary Springfels and Grant Herreid. (Always listen to your mother!)

Special Benefit Evening

Playford’s Delight: A Dance for the Newberry Consort

Dance away the excesses of Thanksgiving to the delicious melodies collected by John Playford at the end of the seventeenth century! Not to worry, your steps will be guided by Gene Morrow, one of the great American experts in English country dance. David Douglass will lead the Newberry Consort Dance Band; wine and light refreshments will be served, at this benefit for the consort.