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Early-music groups announce schedules for 2006-07 season

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Sep. 4--Early music in Chicago has not proved as impressive a growth industry as, say, local chamber or choral music. But the level of historically informed period-instrument performances has remained high over the last several decades while audiences remain both discerning and loyal -- even if their numbers are modest by comparison with those who frequent the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera.

Here is an overview of the early-music concerts local listeners can expect to hear during the 2006-07 season:

The Newberry Consort, Chicago's flagship early-music ensemble, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with five concerts at the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St.), University of Chicago and Northwestern University in Evanston. It will mark Mary Springfels' final season as director, although the viola da gamba player plans to return to the series as guest artist.

The season opener, "Harmonies of the Hemispheres: Devotions and Dreams of Spain and Mexico," coincides with the Newberry Library's fall exhibit titled "The Aztecs and the Making of Colonial America." The program will be made up of songs, hymns and dances from Colonial Mexico, augmented by works composed in Spain during the same period. Concert dates are Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

"Time Stands Still: Reflections of Elizabethan England" will comprise songs and instrumental works from the reign of Elizabeth I. Performances take place Nov. 9-12.

The Newberry will present a benefit concert of early English country dance music, David Douglass directing, Dec. 3. Light refreshments will be served.

Springfels and friends will give Chicago listeners a taste of the Franco-Flemish music that delighted 15th Century Brughes on Feb. 8-11, 2007.

The season will conclude May 3-6 with cantatas and arias written for three generations of Habsburg emperors. The program includes works by Caldara, Biber and Legrenzi.

Performers include Drew Minter, Ellen Hargis and Richard Wistreich, singers; Craig Trompeter, gamba; Grant Herreid, lute; Springfels and Douglass.

Call 312-255-3610.

The group Ars Antigua, directed by bass player Jerry Fuller, will present three concerts of instrumental and vocal chamber music Saturday afternoons in the intimate Quigley Chapel, 103 E. Chestnut.

Nov. 11, the ensemble will perform songs of love and war by Claudio Monteverdi, in collaboration with the Oriana Singers and the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Performers from the Silk Road Project will join Ars Antigua for a program of world music Jan. 13.

The season finale on March 10 will focus on Baroque vocal works performed by singers from Chicago Opera Theater and winners of the Ars Antigua-Midwest Young Artists early-music competition.

Call 312-415-2391.

Early Music Chicago, the collaborative organization that represents 16 local early-music groups and performers, will sponsor two concerts in October.

Oct. 1 will bring a Silk Road-themed program featuring Ars Antigua, the Oriana Singers and Ars Musica to Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Call 312-575-8000 for tickets.

A season preview concert on Oct. 16 will enlist the talents of Bella Voce, Chicago Chorale, Chicago Early Music Consort and St. Cecilia Consort. The free program will be given at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington.

The Schola Antiqua of Chicago has been named artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago, beginning in October. Under the direction of medieval scholar Calvin M. Bower, the professional ensemble will present concerts, lectures and workshops on campus throughout the 2006-07 academic year. Its mission is to preserve, study and interpret medieval chant and early polyphonic music from the 9th Century to the advent of the Renaissance.

The schola's first residency concert will take place Nov. 10 in the university's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. Featured at the free concert will be Dufay's mass "Ave Regina Celorum."


Copyright (c) 2006, Chicago Tribune

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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