Newsletter 12 January 2009

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Houston Early Music

presenting the world’s finest period ensembles and soloists … bringing to life music from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the Baroque and Classical periods. Experience with us early music played on original instruments, by musicians reviving performances of the past.


Fretwork, with Clare Wilkinson

8:00 PM
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Christ Church Cathedral
1117 Texas Ave.

7:00 PM Pre-concert lecture by Dr. Matthew Dirst

Tickets:  713-432-1744


see also Program Notes

During 2009 the musical world will be celebrating the 350th anniversary of the birth of Henry Purcell (1659–1695), one of the most strikingly original and individual musical voices. Houston Early Music joins in the celebration by presenting the acclaimed British viol consort Fretwork in a program of the composer’s instrumental and vocal works. English mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson, whose ravishing voice has won her international critical acclaim, joins the consort in the program entitled Happy Birthday, Henry! The performance will be 8:00PM, Saturday, January 17, 2009 at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue.

In 2006, Fretwork celebrated 20 years of performing music old and new, and looks forward to a challenging and exciting future as the world’s leading consort of viols. In these last two decades, the ensemble has explored the core repertory of great English consort music, from Taverner to Purcell, and made classic recordings against which others are judged. In addition, Fretwork has become known as pioneers of contemporary music for viols, having commissioned over 30 new works. The list of composers is like the roll call of the most prominent writers of our time, including George Benjamin, Michael Nyman, Sir John Tavener, Elvis Costello, Alexander Goehr, John Woolrich, Peter Sculthorpe, Sally Beamish and Simon Bainbridge.

Prior to the concert at 7:00PM, there will be a lecture by Dr. Matthew Dirst, Moores School of Music, University of Houston.

Tickets are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, $10 for students, under 15 free. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 713-432-1744.

Our full season schedule is at


Houston Early Music P.O. Box 271193 Houston TX 77277-1193 Phone 713-432-1744 email Web




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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fretwork2 Sat., Jan. 17, 2009, 8:00PM FRETWORK with CLARE WILKINSON, Mezzo-soprano HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HENRY! - Celebrating Purcell’s 350th Birthday Christ Church Cathedral 1117 Texas Avenue A fitting birthday tribute for England’s greatest baroque composer – England’s finest performing his songs and instrumental works. Fretwork, the viol consort, is joined by the radiant voice of mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson.

Review of Fortune’s Wheel concert

Fortune’s Wheel: making music from the far past seem like it was wrriten yesterday

By CHARLES WARD, January 13, 2008
…. But the Fortune’s Wheel singers – Lydia Heather Knutson, Aaron Sheehan and Shira Kammen – perfromed as if the Medieval English style had become their primarily musical language. Their simple communication with the audience made the essentially unfamiliar music as appealing as the Three Bs. Kammen, on the harp, and Mealy, on the fiddle, added sinuous accompaniments. ….
Read the full review

Program Notes for MIRIE IT IS

NOTES ON THE PROGRAM All medieval music is glimpsed from a great distance, but no repertory is so hard to see as that of  England in the middle ages. Where France had a tradition of lyric song that lasted long enough for thousands of songs to be enshrined in manuscripts, the music we have from England of the same period is scattered and faint: much was destroyed when the monasteries were taken over by the state in the Renaissance, and much more has suffered from the ravages of time. What has come down to us, though, speaks in astonishingly vivid voices. Continue reading

Concert: MIRIE IT IS – A Musical Glimpse of Medieval England

4:00 PM, Sun., Jan.13, 2008 Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman (at Main) [map] Pre-concert lecture, 3:00 PM Tickets: 713-432-1744

MIRIE IT IS – A Musical Glimpse of Medieval England

Fortune’s WheelHouston Early Music will present the Boston-based Fortune’s Wheel with Mirie it Is–A Glimpse of Medieval England at 4:00 pm, Sunday, January 13, 2008 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman (at Main). Noted for performing “with a wonderful air of spontaneity and freedom” (The San Diego Reader), Fortune’s Wheel will present a concert of most of the surviving vernacular treasures from the once vast, now largely lost repertoire of the English Middle Ages. Fortune’s Wheel is a spirited collaboration of four distinguished early-music performers—vocalists Lydia Heather Knutson and Aaron Sheehan, and instrumentalists Shira Kammen & Robert Mealy performing on vielle (medieval fiddle) and harp. Devoted to rediscovering the riches of medieval musical traditions, the ensemble made its debut at the 1996 International Festival of Early Music in Mexico City, where critics acclaimed the group’s “style, diction, tuning, perfect balance, and total engagement with the music.” Since then, the ensemble has been presented by early music concert series in San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Tijuana, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Houston, Jackson, Tucson, Columbus, Cambridge, and Duke University. They have also appeared at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, the Amherst Early Music Festival, The Cloisters and the Frick Collection in New York City, Yale University’s Collection of Musical Instruments, and many other series. Fortune’s Wheel released its first CD, Pastourelle, on Dorian Recordings. Website Prior to the concert, at 3:00 pm, ensemble member Robert Mealy will give a preconcert talk discussing the music to be performed on the program. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, $10 for students, under 15 free. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 713-432-1744.
Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

Concert: MIRIE IT IS – A Glimpse of Medieval England

  Fortune’s Wheel


MIRIE IT IS – A Glimpse of Medieval England

4:00 pm, Sun., January 13, 2008 Trinity Episcopal Church 1015 Holman (at Main)
From the rough vigor of folk music to the refined sophistication of rarely-heard polyphony, Fortune’s Wheel presents most of the surviving vernacular treasurers from the once vast, now largely lost repertoire of the English Middle Ages. “Fortune’s Wheel takes its medieval music seriously and then transforms the music at hand and voice into living, breathing art” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Concert: Flanders Quartet


The Darke is My Delight — English Music from the Reign of Elizabeth I

Monday, November 6, 2006 at 8pm Trinity Episcopal Church 1015 Holman (at Main)

Preconcert talk at 7pm?Kate Pogue, Houston actor, playwright, producer, director and author of Shakespeare’s Friends.

Houston Early Music will present Flanders Recorder Quartet with soprano Susan Hamilton in a concert of seventeenth-century English music from the reign of Elizabeth I. Playing recorders from their collection of 150 instruments, the Belgian ensemble will perform compositions by Byrd, Morley, Dowland and Ferrabasco with texts by Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. The performance will be at 8:00 p.m., Monday, November 6 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman (at Main). Continue reading