The music of the avant-garde fumeurs will form the core of the local debut of Ensemble Project Ars Nova, a group of American early-music singers and intrumentalists whose founders met at the Schola Cantorum in Switzerland in the early 80s. Their program, “Myth, Magic, and Machaut: A Surrealistic Excursion to 14th-Century France With the Aid of a Fumeur,” presents the music of a group of 14th-century French musicians, poets, and philosophers who called themselves fumeurs (“smokers”) because they smoked opium for artistic inspiration. The concert spotlights the work of Guillaume de Machaut in particular, who’s best known for setting the earliest known complete mass penned by an attributed composer, but who also had, as this concert will show, another secret and more secular side as well. The music of the fumeurs was music that, for its time, broke every known convention, and it can still have a surprisingly powerful impact today. Evans Mirageas, formerly of WFMT and since November artistic administrator of the Boston Symphony, returns to narrate this unique presentation, which concludes the University of Chicago’s innovative 1989-90 Early Music Series. Tonight, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 5706 S. University; 702-8068.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lois Greenfield.