The Sweet and Merry Month of May
~posted by Sara Hessel, KMFA Music Director
“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote that in the 19th century, but it was hardly news then, as Texas Early Music Project reminded us in their delightful concert “Spring Rites: The Lark in the Morning.”
T.E.M.P. drew a capacity crowd to First English Lutheran Church to hear songs of love lost, love found, love made and love despaired of. Artistic Director Daniel Johnson’s lively and varied program also included English madrigals, French folk songs and some fun surprises, such as an anonymous 16th century song called O Lusty May that morphed into Lusty Month of May from Camelot, sung very saucily by soprano Kathlene Ritch. (Early music all sober chant sung by monks in robes? Not a bit of it!)
Other personal favorites included Landini’s rousing welcome to spring Ecco la primavera, a tenderly melancholic troubadour song by Bernart de Ventadorn, performed by Daniel Johnson, a riotous French drinking song called Amis, buvons! and recorder pyrotechnics by Jacob van Eyck, brought to life by soloist Victor Eijkhout.
The ‘orchestra’ was in great form — we were treated to excellent violin and vielle playing by Laurie Young Stevens, along with other fine performances by John Walters (viol), Elaine Barber (harp) and James Brown (bass viol). The band had their chance to shine in an instrumental rendering of the Scottish song The Day it Dawes.
Sadly, this was the last concert in T.E.M.P.’s season, and we have to wait until September for more. But it will be worth the wait! In the first concert of the new season, the group revisits one of its greatest hits: Convivencia: The Three Worlds of Renaissance Spain, September 24-26, with special guest artists Tom Zajac (historical winds and percussion), Annette Bauer (recorders) and Kamran Hooshmand (santur and ud). At least we’ll have fond memories of fresh and springy early music to get us through the long, hot summer.
~Sara Hessel is KMFA’s Music Director, as well as producer and host of Ancient Voices. You can hear Ancient Voices on KMFA 89.5, Sundays at 9am and 4pm.