Susan Love Fitts
Houston Early Music presents UK-based Dufay Collective
HOUSTON, TX – October 4, 2011 – Houston Early Music will celebrate the holiday season with a performance by the Dufay Collective on Sunday, December 11. The concert, which will feature Christmas music from Renaissance England, begins at 5 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue, Houston, Texas 77002.
Based in the United Kingdom, the Dufay Collective was founded in 1987 and specializes in Medieval and Renaissance music. The ensemble, named after Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay, has toured the world performing informative and entertaining concerts. The collective can also be heard on the soundtracks of several feature films including Hamlet, Harry Potter 3 and Shrek 3.
For their Houston program, To Drive the Cold Winter Away – Christmas Revelry in Renaissance England, the Dufay Collective will present music from the time of the Tudors and Stuarts. Collective members will offer a pre-concert talk at 4:15 p.m.
William Lyons, Dufay Collective director, explained that the program title comes from a popular 17th century ballad. “It suggests that festive feasts and revels are the ideal antidote to the cold winter weather,” he said. “And you know all about our English preoccupation with the weather!”
Lyons said during the 16th and 17th centuries Europe experienced what has since been referred to as a mini ice age. The summers were cool and the winters bitter – so much so that the river Thames froze over for many days, and a fair, market and games all took place on the thick ice.
“Songs about the severe cold were common, and whether you were enduring the cold biting winds that whipped around London’s narrow streets, or trudging, head bowed along a country lane, you would have enjoyed the delights of singing a festive song whilst thawing your fingers and toes around a log fire,” Lyons said. “Dancing was a great way to loosen stiff limbs and you’ll here plenty of good toe-tapping tunes in the program.”
Lyons said the concert will provide a snapshot of music one might have heard in 16th and 17th century London, whether it was in the court, a patrician household, a tavern or the street. The collective will use instruments typical of the time the music was first performed. “The emphasis is very much on the ‘folk’ side of things: heartfelt lyrics, great dance tunes and a real feeling of spontaneity,” he said.
The concert will mark the Dufay’s first performance in Texas. “We’re all looking forward to it immensely, especially the fact that the weather will be warm and from what I hear, so will the welcome,” Lyons said.
Exploring history through music is a Houston Early Music hallmark. 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.
For more information about Houston Early Music and to purchase tickets and subscriptions, please visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 713-432-1744.
ABOUT HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC
Houston Early Music presents the world’s finest period ensembles and soloists who bring to life music from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the Baroque and Classical periods.
One of the country’s leading early-music organizations, it is the city’s only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms. Houston Early Music epitomizes a movement that has swept the world of classical music. Incorporated in 1969, the nonprofit provides performance opportunities for up-and-coming and major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series.
A successful and growing educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org.
Susan Love Fitts