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Newberry Consort

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Over the years the Newberry Consort has presented a number of pre-Baroque musical personalities and styles ripe for reappraisal. Johann Rosenmuller, the subject of the ensemble's season opener, promises to be a major find. Slightly older than Buxtehude and a couple of generations ahead of Bach and Telemann, Rosenmuller (1619-'84) is now viewed by most scholars as a key transitional figure in the music of northern Europe, skillful at injecting Italianate elements into his compositions while retaining his fundamentally Lutheran outlook. In his instrumental and vocal pieces the tempi tend to be slower and beat heavier than their Italian counterparts. More often than not, his scores are chromatically inventive and harmonically rich and expressive, conveying emotions with a sense of restraint. Small wonder that he earned comparison by his contemporaries to Amphion, the lyrist of Greek myth. According to the Newberry's leader Mary Springfels, Rosenmuller was a homosexual who was persecuted in Leipzig, where he worked as a church organist; in 1655, after being jailed for pederasty, he fled to the more tolerant city of Venice and became a colleague of Monteverdi's at Saint Mark's Cathedral. Two decades later he returned to Germany with tricks he'd learned from the Venetian masters. (Rosenmuller's sexuality, like that of many other composers, is part of a heated academic debate over the influence of sexual orientation on the creative process.) The Newberry's hefty program juxtaposes a selection of his consort sonatas with writings for female voices that include three different treatments of "In Te Domine Speravi." Joining Newberry's Springfels (viola da gamba), David Douglass (violin), and countertenor Drew Minter are soprano Ellen Hargis and members of the Boston-based string ensemble the King's Noyse. Wednesday, 3 PM, Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton (low-priced, hour-long preview concert). Thursday, 8 PM, Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel, Lake Forest College, College and Sheridan, Lake Forest. Next Friday, October 27, 8 PM, Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Next Saturday, October 28, 8 PM, Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake, Oak Park. 255-3610.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Roger Lewin-Jennifer Girard Studio.

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