SMC music department hosts “Such Sweete Melodie”
Alaina Anderson | Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Saint Mary’s music department invited students to a concert by guest Baroque ensemble “Such Sweete Melodie” in Le Mans Hall on Monday.
Music department chair Nancy Menk, who organized the event, said it is important to learn about music from the 17th century in order to increase understanding of music today.
“[Such Sweete Melodie is] fantastic and it’s great for our students to hear music of this quality on these original instruments, as well,” she said.
The performance included experimental music from the early 17th century baroque era.
Menk said she thought it was an educational experience for students and was very pleased with the performances.
“We try to expose our students to as many different styles and types of music as we can,” she said. “We don’t have any early music performers on our faculty right now, so we bring them in from the outside.”
Jeffrey Noonan, former Saint Mary’s professor and member of “Such Sweete Melodie, played both lute and theorbo during the performance. He said the group participates in a wide variety of music, including Broadway show tunes, medieval dance music, Argentine tangos and the standards of the classical repertoire.
Although they have a diverse range, Noonan said the group gravitates to the expressively experimental music of the early 17th century.
“Our program focuses on the early years of the baroque era, featuring the music and styles that came to define ‘baroque’ as a break with the old style and something clearly on the edge,” Noonan said.
During the concert, Lindsey Adams performed as mezzo-soprans, Charles Metz played the virginal, Alice Culin-Ellison played the baroque violi, and Philip Spray played the violone, lirone and the baroque guitar.
Metz said he found the virginal for sale in an antique shop eight years ago as a painted piece of furniture. He said he was happy to stumble across the instrument and had it restored to playing conditions.
“Long story short … we can determine it had been built by Francesco Poggio who lived in Florence, Italy and died in 1634,” Metz said. “We believe [this instrument] was built in about 1590.
“I firmly believe it’s important to not have [the virginal] sit in a museum, there are 18 of these in the world, all in museums except for three by this maker, this is one of the three.“I think it’s very important to take it out on snowy days … and have people such as yourself hear it and hear an instrument as Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth would have heard it, because they were both alive when this instrument was built.”
Noonan said he has looked forward to returning to Saint Mary’s sincethis teaching days from 1977 to 1980.
“Having taught here and knowing the kind of students and faculty that are here, how interested they would be and how appreciative they would be of what we’re doing was what I was really looking forward to,” Noonan said.
“It is also very important to me that we bring an ensemble here fronted by two young professional women musicians who are making their living as professional players,” he said. I think it’s an important part of what Saint Mary’s does in terms of promoting women to get out and do what they love to do.”