Calderwood Consort to benefit Wisdom’s Women

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LEWISTON – The Calderwood Consort, a local early music ensemble, will offer a concert to benefit The Center for Wisdom’s Women, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Trinity Episcopal Church, on the corner of Bates and Spruce streets. The event is open to the public with a $10 suggested donation.

The concert, titled “Wisdom’s Women,” will be a program of early music (138 BCE–15th century) celebrating the many faces of women. Found throughout the program are early Christian church music in praise of the Virgin Mary, songs addressed to ladies by courtly lovers, songs of devotion in praise of women’s beauty or bewailing their cruelty and faithlessness, together with lively dances.  One is written from the woman’s point of view, “Alas, Why Am I Married?” Also included will be compositions by much-loved composers Machaut, Dufay, Dunstable and Byrd. 

The program begins with one of the first substantial fragments of ancient music in existence, “The First Delphic Hymn” dating from around 138 BCE.

“The Fallen Woman” is the best-known composition by the earliest known woman composer, Kassia from the mid-9th century. “The Fallen Woman” is a hymn about Mary Magdalene who washed Christ’s feet, anointed them and wiped them with her long hair. The hymn is also thought to be partially autobiographical. 

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The program also contains a 12th century chant, “Columba Aspexit,” by the well-known German Benedictine abbess, visionary and composer, Hildegard of Bingen. The sequence, written in honor of St. Maximus, contains a cascade of Biblical images with that of the paradise garden and the heavenly city continuing throughout. Also of note is the hypnotic song, “O Death Rock me Asleep,” which has been attributed to Anne Boleyn, ill-fated second wife of Henry VIII. 

The Calderwood Consort performs music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in costume using replicas of period instruments including recorders, crumhorns, viols, vielle, harp, psaltery, gemshorn, percussion and voices. The group has given concerts for more than 30 years and also gives lecture demonstrations in schools and colleges, has played live on public radio, provided musical entertainment for Renaissance festivals, open houses, private parties, weddings and holiday events  in stores and museums. 

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