serving up a Musical Feast
“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”
--Lorenzo, in Merchant of Venice
If the songs of Shakespeare’s plays are the food of love as claimed by the Baltimore Consort’s current show titled “The Food of Love: Songs for Shakespeare,” then the Consort serves up a feast. Larry Lipkis, composer-in-residence and director of early music here at Moravian College, is a member of the consort and has been making music with them, playing the viol and the recorder, for 35 years, shortly after the group’s inception.
Lipkis explains that the sextet was founded with the purpose of playing music from Elizabethan Age but not specifically from the plays. With the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year (April 2016), the group chose to produce a new show that would be more theatrical and focus on music from the plays, using the earliest sources they could find. “Since we inaugurated the show in the summer of 2014, we've done about two dozen concerts,” says Lipkis. “We also play other repertory as well--Scottish, French, ‘Crossing to the New World’—depending on the request of the sponsors, but ‘Food of Love’ has been our most popular.”
Instruments typical of the English Consort (aka Shakespeare’s Stage Band) include the bass viol, bandora, lute, cittern, treble viol, flute, and recorder. In addition to Lipkis, the Baltimore Consort features Mary Anne Ballard on treble and bass viols, Mark Cudek on cittern and bass viol, Ronn McFarlane on lute, Mindy Rosenfeld on flutes, fifes, bagpipes, and krummhorn, and Danielle Svonavec as soprano.
Go to YouTube to hear a full recording of “The Food of Love” recorded at the Madison Early Music Festival on July 12, 2016, or to listen to two selections from the concert, “Kemp’s Jig” and “It was a Lover and his Lass.”
Want to hear Lipkis and the Baltimore Consort live? View their upcoming schedule.
In Love with Early Music
Larry Lipkis, composer-in-residence and director of early music here at Moravian College, took an interest in early music while an undergrad at UCLA. “I owned a recorder and went to an early music concert just because I was curious,” he says. “I fell in love with the music and asked to join the group.
“On the surface, early music seems simpler than the more complex compositions of the classical, Romantic, and contemporary eras, but I respond to the directness, the soulfulness, the rhythmic vitality, and the outright beauty of it.” Lipkis adds. “Plus, it does take a certain skill level to play the more difficult pieces in the repertory, so it is very satisfying from a performer's standpoint. There is also the great pleasure of making music with old friends for over 35 years.”
When asked about what draws him to the viol and the recorder, Lipkis explains, “I love them both for different reasons. I can be more soulful and expressive on the viol, and more perky and playful on the recorder.”