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The Baltimore Consort - 12/14/2011


I grew up an acid rocker.  I’m not strictly a Dead Head (I’ve only seen them three or four times.) but I still listen to Garcia and Jimi Hendrix and Grace Slick and Cream and Robin Trower with great enjoyment. My wife is the opposite. Her musical taste begins with Bach and works backward. Put another way, she considers any music composed after Bach to be jazz. Her music plays in our house all the time – Baroque, Renaissance, Early Music of all stripes. Submit or die. 

I admit it. I’ve submitted.

I’ve come to appreciate the civility and the architecture of the music. I not only listen. I enjoy.

The Baltimore Consort is a quintet of top flight Early Music multi-instrumentalists – two from the East Coast, two from the West and one Mid-Westerner – who get together to tour and record as their schedules allow. Founding member Larry Lipkis teaches at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and so we get to see the Consort every year during their traditional Christmas tour. 

This year at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Bethlehem, their lineup included both their guest soprano and a counter tenor, each of whom having accompanied them in Bethlehem in the past, both of whom appear on their Dorian recordings. The playlist included French Noels, German carols, Greensleeves and more. There were instrumentals, solo vocals and vocal duets. There were quiet airs and rowdy dances.

The ensemble performed with precision and joy. The Consort clearly enjoys playing the music and playing with each other. They display and discuss their instruments. They joke and they kid. During the concert, they hand the instruments back and forth as a medley calls for different players to take the lead. It’s entrancing. It’s a happening. It’s an education.

It’s a joy.

I’m not going to go into the biographies and discographies of each player – the lutist alone has released a couple of dozen CDs. Go to http://www.baltcons.com/ and you’ll learn all that you need to know. Check out their concert schedule. If the Baltimore Consort is playing near you, you really have to check them out.

This is your Uncle Ira. Check them out.

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