|The Newberry Consort|
It’s been a chilly, soggy day today in Boston, but that didn’t stop a large crowd from swimming their way into the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall to hear a pair of sharply contrasting concerts as part of the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF).
Running June 9th through 16th this year, BEMF is an annual cavalcade of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music featuring top early music performers and ensembles from around the world. I’m covering it along with a raft of other critics from the Music Critics Association of North America, which is also having its annual conference this week.
The evening started with a joint performance by The Newberry Consort and the vocal ensemble Exsultemus of “Rosas das Rosas,” a collection of songs and dances from the “Cantigas de Santa Maria.”
The performances were hypnotic and entertaining. Some of the poems are comical and whimsical in their view of Mary’s miracles, others deeply reverential. English translations of the texts were projected on a screen above and behind the performers, as were scans of the illustrations that accompany the stories in their original manuscripts. Twenty-first century technology helped bring this 13th century music to life.
Tomorrow: 17th century Austrian music by Gli Incogniti, a fully-staged production of Handel’s “Almira”, and Medieval Irish music for voice and harp.