Surely there are worse reasons to skip breakfast than zipping across Boston Common to see a 1912 silent film about Queen Elizabeth I starring Sarah Bernhardt. Anyway if The Newberry Consort is providing a live soundtrack, scones can wait. David Douglass opened with a detailed (and funny) introduction on the history of the film (the box office rock on which Anton Zukor founded Paramount Pictures) and the careers of the leads. He didn't need to talk about the music much, at least to this audience, as the tunes they'd chosen were pretty standard period repertoire (Dowland, Holborne, Byrd, et al). Ellen Hargis opened and closed the film with thematically relevant songs What if a day, Can she excuse my wrongs, Flow my tears, and Eliza is the fairest Queen. (Can you tell this flick is mostly about the Earl of Essex?) For the record, Hargis sounded great even at the ungodly hour of 10am.
As with everybody else dealing with that weather, the strings got wonkier as the performance progressed, and there was no convenient moment in the film for viol retuning, so by the end pitch-indifferent audience members were a real asset. Huzzah!
Here's a scene we all thought was excellent, for reasons that will be obvious to undertakers and coroners:
Noonish: chai and a blueberry scone. The scone was still warm, moist, more fluffy than brick-like, and made with blueberries of recent provenance rather than the old and desiccated remains thereof. Clearly not made from a mix. Altogether pretty good. Were you dying to know this? Now you may live.
1pm: Oberlin HIP's Trauermusick at First Lutheran Church, which was Telemann's Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin for the first half and Bach's Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (which title reminds me of a commercial jingle, but which?) for the second. Both of these were excellent overall, and much of the ensemble has only just graduated, so it was fun to catch a bit of the future on the threshold. The vocalists were particularly outstanding -- my prejudices at work, no doubt, though there is in my notes a notation of devil horns for the recorders, so clearly the vocal soloists weren't the only thing that caught my ear.
Special mention to soprano Sara Casey, who sang her aria in the Telemann beautifully in spite of a far too prolonged cell phone accompaniment. Bass Elliott Hines was also outstanding, handling the bulk of the solo work with power and presence. Tenor Miguel Amaguaña sounded fine in the choruses but ran into some trouble in his arioso in the Bach. He sounded like he was having the same trouble the reeds were having, and I wouldn't mind hearing him again under more favorable conditions. But it was Nathan Medley, countertenor and Class of 2009, who really made people sit up. Watch this guy, he's got gorgeous tone and volume to spare (though the sound samples on his website don't quite do him justice). Criminally, he had the same cell phone to deal with in his aria as Ms Casey had in hers, whereupon I had a vision: a large thought balloon formed above the heads of the people, and these words appeared as if descended from divine and ætherial regions: "Oh, WTF!!" Seriously, whoever you are, you need to get rid of that thing before somebody clubs you in the head and calls it justifiable smiting.
8pm: I'd like to say The Tallis Scholars lost control of their pyrotechnics and they had to bring in the fire dept
but of course The Tallis Scholars don't lose control of their pyrotechnics, that's what makes them The Tallis Scholars. Their program was entitled The Genius of Tomás Luis de Victoria. The good news is it was awesome. The less good news is that since I'd never heard this music before, and thus was wholly unfamiliar with it, I don't have much more to say about it other than "It was awesome". If I find a review by an intelligent person, I'll post a link. Because really, it was awesome.