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Houston Early Music’s season finale celebrates Tudor King Henry VIII
The Flanders Recorder Quartet will be featured at the Houston Early Music season finale concert on Monday, May 2, 2011. The concert will be held 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman Street, Houston, TX 77004.
Founded in 1987, the Flanders Recorder Quartet has performed more than 1,500 concerts on five continents. Members of the group are recorder players Bart Spanhove, Tom Beets, Joris Van Goethem and Paul Van Loey.
The quartet will be joined by guest vocalist Cecile Kempenaers, a leading early-music soprano in Belgium who specializes in Renaissance and Baroque music.
The mixed ensemble of recorder quartet and vocalist will bring to the stage a program celebrating a famous Tudor king. The evening’s program, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, includes contemporary music by award-winning Belgian composer Piet Swert, as well as medieval and improvised music, a scene from Shakespeare, letters from King Henry and Anne Boleyn and original verse written specifically for this project.
“This program is a fascinating telling of a familiar story,” Houston Early Music artistic director, Nancy Ellis, said. “Our season finale honors a king who was actually an accomplished musician.”
Dr. Thomas Crow, associate professor of British history St. Thomas University, will offer a pre-concert lecture at 6:45 p.m. He also serves as a program chair of the music department at the University.
Crow said Henry VIII played the lute, composed and sang. He also was supportive of the arts in his court. Prior to his reign, the court had only five permanent musicians. Henry VIII dramatically increased that number to about 58.
“The music reflects the general splendor of the court,” Crow said. “England was just feeling the effects of the Renaissance, and there was a blossoming of all the arts.”
Crow said the sequence of queens reflected the king’s personality. “He was impulsive and acted without thinking,” Crow explained.
The success of the Tudor dynasty was a hot topic in Henry VIII’s court, Crow added. “It was on everyone’s mind — whether or not the dynasty would survive.”
Exploring history through music is a Houston Early Music specialty. The group follows music from the Middle Ages through the 18th century, providing unique programming and world-class concerts performed with historical instruments and styles true to the period. Houston Early Music is one of the nation’s oldest early-music organizations.
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Tickets are available at the door and online at www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org. Seats are $35 for general admission, $30 for seniors and $10 for students (with student ID). Admission is free for children under 15.
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Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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