After 11 seasons, one looks forward to a Newberry Consort recital not so much for the playing, which often is top-notch, but for the illuminating insights into music and literature of bygone eras. For its season opener the period-instrument ensemble is presenting a gallimaufry of pieces celebrating the exploits and virtues of the Knights of the Round Table. Certainly popular and tantalizing subjects, King Arthur and his colorful pals were role models in passion, chivalry, and wisdom. Covered in this roundup of musical portraits are the mighty Arthur himself (in "Lorques Artus," by 14th-century German troubadour Johannes Cunelier), his wife Guinevere (whose doomed extramarital affair is mourned in Cunelier's ballad "Se Genevre"), her lover Lancelot and his sword Excalibur ("Il sesto chantare de Lancellotto"), and Lancelot's rival Gawain (whose conquests, amorous and otherwise, are recounted in "L'aventure au Gauvain"). Famous star-crossed lovers Tristan and Isolde are also on the bill: they're eulogized in "Lai de kievrefueil" ("The Honeysuckle") and "Lai mortal," based on some 12th-century chronicles that anointed Tristan as an Arthurian knight and a buddy of Lancelot's. Another heartrending account of true love will be told in selections from Titurel, by 13th-century poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, whose saga of the Holy Grail, Parzival, inspired Wagner's most obviously religious opera. Vocal soloists are countertenor Drew Minter and baritone William Sharp, who'll be accompanied by David Douglass (early violins) and Mary Springfels (lute and viola da gamba). Friday, 8 PM, Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Saturday, 8 PM, Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake, Oak Park. 943-9090, ext. 381.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Kohler.