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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

Early Music Now’s Medieval Christmas

Boston Camerata performs with Milwaukee Choral Artists

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Early Music Now marks the holiday season with “A Medieval Christmas” featuring the Boston Camerata and the Milwaukee Choral Artists. The concert traces the transformation of the Christmas story from the 10th through 16th centuries via music. The singers will perform in a wide variety of languages, including Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Latin and Spanish, among other less known tongues like 10th century Old Saxon. The Boston Camerata returns to Milwaukee under the artistic direction of Anne Azéma. In addition to voices and winds, the Camerata will perform with medieval-era instruments: the hurdy-gurdy, a stringed instrument with a cranked wheel mechanism; the vielle, a stringed instrument similar to the violin; and the psaltery, a harp-like instrument comparable to today’s autoharp. Under Azéma, the Camerata has increased its profile with a suite of five new medieval programs created for the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Reims Cathedral in France this past summer.

The Milwaukee Choral Artists’ music director Sharon Hansen promises that their concert with the Boston Camerata “features music you will not hear anywhere else this season. These are the origins of Christmas.” The program is divided into five parts: Prophecies, The Bridegroom Comes, Be Not Afraid, Star of the Day and The Christmas Story. Each section takes the Christmas story one step further, from the Isaiah’s prophecy to the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Jesus Christ.

Early Music Now’s artistic director Charles Q. Sullivan sees this concert as artistically fulfilling and soul stirring. “The freshness” says Sullivan, “is a balm on people’s spirits at this time of year.” The performance takes place 5 p.m., Dec. 8 at St. Joseph Chapel, 1501 S. Layton Blvd. (Greenfield Ave. at 27th St.) For information, visit www.earlymusicnow.org.

 

Classical Music Happening

PianoArts: Taylor Plays Messiaen

PianoArts new Artist Series features a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Christopher Taylor's performance of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jésus. Messiaen’s piano masterwork is a collection of 20 contemplations on the infant Jesus, displays the kaleidoscopic colors and birdsong elements for which the French composer’s music is known. Performance will be held at 7 p.m., Dec. 7 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 914 E. Knapp St. For information, visit pianoarts.org.