Seven performers graced the IHC's Basile Theater stage Friday for Indianapolis Early Music's penultimate concert: two singers and five instrumentalists -- offering Renaissance music, mostly from the 16th century and forming the Peabody Consort. Founded in 1996 by IEM's artistic director Mark Cudek, these performers are young graduates of Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, with Cudek himself holding sway on the cittern and two unusual drums called the "doumbec" and the "riq."
As this was IEM's first Renaissance program this season, we were also offered other sounds of earlier-period instruments than those heard in the first four all-Baroque programs: For example, Brian Kay playing the "oud," strung differently but otherwise looking identical to a standard lute, it offered perhaps a mellower timbre. Then there was the "veille," looking like a skinny violin -- also strung differently -- but played between the knees by Niccolo Seligman. The rest were a more familiar set of viols and recorders, the latter excellently played by Justin Godoy.
Narrator Robert Aubry Davis from Washington, D.C. added his talents to the consort with two readings from Shakespeare, preceding music by Henry VIII and his contemporaries. I titled Davis' subsequent readings as follows: "An Ode to King Ferdinand" which preceded a set of Spanish music of the period. This was followed by "An Ode to Music," preceding the set ending the first half. In the short second half devoted to Sephardic Jewish music of the period, Davis gave us "An Ode to Judaism," ending with "An Ode to Zion."
Soprano Julie Bosworth and countertenor Daniel Moody employed their nearly matching voices throughout the program, with Moody's voice well up into the lower soprano range. They each sang solos as well as joining in duos. With their tones often intertwining, their blend was perfect; the singing became the program's highlight, along with Kay doing a masterful improvisation on his oud, near the end.
Cudek and his cohorts showed a skillful hand in putting this program together, perhaps understandably since they have not only done this one many times previously but have recorded it on CD as well (it was offered for sale in the lobby). Sunday afternoon sees the return of the four-player Hesperus group playing music to accompany the silent-movie showing of The Mark of Zorro. July 11; Indiana History Center