Musick’s Silver Sound: Shakespearian Songs & Dances

If you like early music don’t miss this concert that include Ronn McFarlane on Lute with the Baltimore Consort!

Musick’s Silver Sound: Shakespearian Songs & Dances
Presented by: Early Music Society of the Islands (EMSI)

Date: Friday, February 18 at 8 pm, pre-concert talk at 7:10
Event: Classical music
Programme:  Elizabethan/Jacobean songs and dances
Artists: Baltimore Consort (USA)

Venue: Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora (at Quadra)
Tickets: Members $20; Adults $25; Seniors/Students $22; students $10 rush; tickets available at the Royal McPherson Box Office (250-386-6121) or at the door

EMSI Infoline: 250-882-5058 or visit for programmes and news
EMSI Contact: Dr. James Young,, 250-592-4058

Artists’ Website:
Artists’ Contact: Larry Lipkis,


Infectious rhythms and rollicking tunes make the Baltimore Consort a perennial favourite with a wide range of classical, folk and world music audiences.

“The audience loved every minute.” — The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

Baltimore Consort returns to Victoria on Friday, February 18 with a programme of Elizabethan dances and songs from Shakespeare’s plays. The programme’s title, Musick’s Silver Sound, is drawn from a song by Richard Edwards (1525-66) quoted inRomeo and Juliet. Writing for a theatre in which music was as natural as the drama and comedy, Shakespeare included about forty such songs in his plays, ten of which are found in this programme. Their tunes, the popular songs of Elizabethan England, would have been well known to a contemporary audience and are as close in this concert as we can get today to those Shakespeare intended.

Only the words were written into Shakespeare’s scripts.  Of the musical settings for his songs that have come down to us, the most likely to have been actually performed on the Globe’s stage are those by John Johnson (1540-1594) and Thomas Morley (1557/8-1603). Johnson was a court lutenist to Elizabeth I. While we have a few fine compositions by native English lutenists before him, he can reasonably be regarded as the founder of the school of English lute music of the Golden Age which was to culminate in the work of John Dowland (1563-1626). Johnson absorbed both the prevailing Italianate style and a more idiosyncratically English taste to produce a substantial body of work of real distinction. His work in this programme is represented by Ariel’s song Where the bee sucks, from The Tempest, and two dances.

The organist of St. Pauls Cathedral from 1588, Thomas Morley is best known today for his legacy of bright, secular madrigals. Though he lived for some time in the same part of London as Shakespeare, the connection between his tunes and Shakespeare’s texts is unproven. The programme includes his famous setting of It was a lover and his lass, from As You Like It, and three dances from his First Book of Consort Lessons for the broken consort.

A band of various soft instruments called a ‘broken consort’ was popular in Elizabethan and early Jacobean England. Combining the sultry viols, the ethereal flute, the ‘sprightly and cheerful’ cittern, the ‘deep’ bandora and the ‘noble’ lute, Baltimore Consort is such a group, capable of many moods from the joyful to the melancholy.

Founded in 1980 to perform the instrumental music of Shakespeare’s time, Baltimore Consort has explored early English, Scottish, and French popular music, focusing on the relationship between folk and art song and dance. Their interest in early music of English/Scottish heritage has also led them to delve into the rich trove of traditional music preserved in North America. Recordings on the Dorian label have earned them recognition as Top Classical-Crossover Artist of the Year (Billboard).

This performance marks the Victoria debut of Baltimore Consort’s soprano, Danielle Svonavec. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she now teaches voice.  While still a student, she stepped in on short notice as soloist for the Baltimore Consort’s nine-concert 1999 Christmas tour. Since then she has toured with the Consort and appeared with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Pomerium, the South Bend Chamber Orchestra, and the South Bend Symphony. She currently serves as the Cantor for the nationally televised mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame. Danielle lives with her husband and three daughters on a farm near Goshen, Indiana.

Baltimore Consort was last here in March, 2008 with a program of Spanish songs and dances.

Baltimore Consort (publicity photo)

Seated: Danielle Svonavec, Jose Lemos (not at this concert)

Standing (from L): Ronn McFarlane, Mindy Rosenfeld, Mark Cudek, Larry Lipkis, Mary Anne Ballard