Baltimore Consort celebrates holidays with Houston Early Music: “Wassail, Wassail!” program includes traditional carols and dance tunes from the British Isles, France, Spain, Germany and Appalachia
The Baltimore Consort will bring a festive Yuletide program titled “Wassail, Wassail!” to Houston Early Music on Tuesday, December 11. The concert, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, celebrates the season with old carols and dance tunes from the British Isles, France, Spain, Germany and Appalachia.
“We are truly looking forward to being in Houston again,” said Mary Anne Ballard,who plays viols and rebec with the Consort and is a favorite of Houston Early Music audiences. The group has appeared some half-dozen times on the series, most recently in 2008.
Named Top Classical-Crossover Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine, the Consort is known for its liveliness and a virtuosity that spans a wide range of musical styles and instruments.
Besides Ballard, the ensemble includes Mark Cudek (cittern, viol, crumhorn), Larry Lipkis (viol, recorder, gemshorn, crumhorn), Ronn McFarlane (lute), Mindy Rosenfeld (wooden flutes and fifes, crumhorn, pipes, harp), Danielle Svonavec (soprano) and José Lemos (countertenor).
They bring a cornucopia of seasonal favorites and lesser-known gems. The program begins with “The Lord of the Dance,” an irresistible invocation to the dance set to the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.” Other impelling dances include “Masters In This Hall"and “Sellenger’s Round,” a robust Elizabethan circle dance.
What early music Christmas program would be complete without the familiar “Greensleeves”? The Consort will present a set of variations on it that appeared in an early-18th-century book of flute music.
They will also honor the program’s title with a set of wassailing tunes from the British Isles. Spain will be represented by a set of lively villancicos, including traditional favorite “Ríu, ríu, chíu.”
From France will come such classics as “Il est né, le divin Enfant!” based on an ancient hunting air. German contributions include a dance that appeared in a vision to a medieval monk, as well as a dance that J. S. Bach incorporated into an organ prelude.
An Appalachian song titled “Babe of Bethlehem” shows how diverse cultures have united in celebration of the season. South Carolina shape-note singer and anthologist William Walker wrote the words to it nearly 200 years ago, setting them to a tune going back to ancient times in Ireland.
Exploring history through music is a Houston Early Music hallmark. The group presents the world’s finest period ensembles and soloists, bringing to life music from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the Baroque and Classical periods and providing unique programming and concerts performed with historical instruments and styles true to the period.
Individual tickets are available at www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org and are $35, $30 for seniors, and $10 for students, and admission is free for children under 15. For more information, email info@HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 281-846-4222. $35, $30 for seniors, and $10 for students, and admission is free for children under 15