Early Music Key West offers ‘A Musical Banquet’



Early Music Key West presents “A Musical Banquet,” the final concert in its 2019 season, at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in Mary Chapel at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 401 Duval St.

The concert features soprano Ellen Hargis; David Douglass on violin; and Daniel Swenberg on lutes, theorbo and guitar; in a program of music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque from France, England, Spain and Italy performed on period instruments in the style of the period.

Most of the composers will likely be new to the audience, although John Dowland, Henry Purcell and Claudio Monteverdi might be familiar to some. And while the performance is the result of extensive scholarly study, the presenters promise the results are vivid, vibrant and ravishing.

The improvisational nature of much of the music, combined with the resonant sound of the period instruments in the wonderful venue, gives the music its soul. From a period of intense humanist exploration, the compositions draw their texts and inspirations from the Greeks and Romans along with contemporary poets, giving heart to every performance.

Most of the instruments — lutes, early guitars and violins — are recognizable as being related to their modern cousins. Perhaps the visually oddest is the theorbo, a lute with an extra-long neck (as large as 6 feet long) that can best be understood as “the Fender bass of the Baroque.” When the architect Inigo Jones attempted to bring one into England from the continent in 1605, it was confiscated by customs officials in fear that it was a weapon of mass destruction meant to kill King James.

The performers for “A Musical Banquet” perform all over the U.S. and Europe in the most prestigious venues and teach in the most prominent institutions, but they have not lost touch with the essential interaction between performer and audience that makes for a most satisfying event.

Tickets for $30 are available online from Eventbrite and will also be sold at the door. Student tickets for $15 (cash only) can be purchased at the door.

For more information, email EarlyMusicKW@gmail.com or call 646-239-3522. ¦

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