Have you ever wondered what sort of music accompanied the performances of Shakespeare’s plays during his time? Well, the Newberry Library’s musician-in-residence Mary Springfels has some of the answers. She’s scoured libraries in Oxford and Cambridge and the Newberry itself for manuscripts that may offer clues about theatrical music from the Elizabethan era and surrounding periods–from the reign of the Tudors to the death of Charles I. For the Newberry Consort’s season finale, she has compiled a bountiful sampler of her findings. There are songs from King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew, incidental music and interludes for selected plays of Ben Jonson and Francis Beaumont (a Jacobian dramatist more popular in his time than Shakespeare and celebrated for his comedies of manners), plus jigs, ballads, and more songs from sundry masques (16th century allegorical dramas). The singers are two of the best in the early-music business: countertenor Drew Minter and soprano Ellen Hargis. Following Newberry custom, consort members–Springfels (viola de gamba), David Douglass (early violin), and Kevin Mason (lute and theorbo)–will introduce their instruments and sketch the historical background of the music they perform. This may indeed be a rare chance to brush up on your Shakespearean music. Saturday, 8 PM, Scottish Rite Cathedral, 935 N. Dearborn; 943-9090, ext. 310.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John Shultz.