by Vanessa Skelton
Spring is here and we can rejoice with the rebirth of our gardens, the return of the songbirds and in keeping with the theme of reawakening, the North Grenville Concert Choir will present a concert of renaissance music. The concert is named “Now is the Month of May(ing)” which references not only the date of the concert but also the song in the repertoire of the same name and the medieval celebration of May Day. On Mother’s Day weekend, bring your mom and your family to the festival of madrigals. These songs are like chamber music for voices and are typically unaccompanied by musical instruments. This vocal concert, however, will be supported by classical guitar and flute. Although the flute is typical of renaissance music, the guitar will be impersonating a lute, which is the more appropriate instrument for the time period. The guitarist is Will O’Neill and flautist is Michael Morgan. Will is from a family of musicians and his brother Chris was the accompanist for the choir last year before he left for University of Western Ontario to study music.
The twenty-member choir has been practicing since January and are becoming adept at the French, Italian and German words in the songs. Luckily, the English words were slightly easier to learn but with one song about cosmography, which is the study of the earth, and in particular the volcanoes of Iceland and Sicily, there were some new words to be learned by all. Who knew that composers would be writing songs about “sulphurious fire” in the 1600’s long before Johnny Cash and his “Ring of Fire”.
You can expect about one and a half hours of melodious tunes that will be sure to entertain you. With many love songs among the repertoire, you can imagine William Shakespeare drawing inspiration for Romeo and Juliet from the lyrics that he probably heard at social evenings with friends. When the song reminds us that “here comes spring again, the season of love”, who can resist the happiness that flows through the song. Of course, other songs are not as happy in love as when the lover sighs that “weep, weep, mine eyes, my heart can take no rest.” Other songs are more humorous in the treatment of love as when two country women compare husbands and rejoice in the fact that “he doesn’t annoy me or beat me either”, while the other women lauds her husband that “does the cleaning and feeds the chickens”. You definitely can’t get more romantic than that!
The concerts are being held in three different locations in the area: Friday, May 10, 7:30 at Manotick United Church, Saturday, May 11, 7:30 at Merrickville United Arts Centre and Sunday, May 12, 2:00 at St. John United Church in Kemptville. A reception with home-baked treats will follow the Sunday concert to celebrate Mother’s Day. Tickets are $15 for adults and are available at Brewed Awakenings in Kemptville or on-line at ngcc.eventbrite.ca. Tickets for children under 12 are $10 at the door only but contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.