San Francisco Early Music Society's Season Continues with Baltimore Consort, 11/20

The San Francisco Early Music Society's 40th-anniversary season continues the weekend of November 20 with three concerts by the Baltimore Consort, featuring its core repertory, music of the Elizabethan era, with songs and consort music from Shakespeare's plays. Soprano Danielle Svonavec joins the ensemble to perform some of the greatest hits from the Bard's songbook, including "It Was a Lover and his Lass," "Where the Bee Sucks," "Full Fathom Five" and "The Willow Song." The Baltimore Consort performs at 8:00 pm Friday, November 20 at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto; at 7:30 pm Saturday, November 21 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley; and at 4:00 pm Sunday, November 22 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Individual tickets from $34 to $40 as well as season subscription packages are available for purchase online at

In addition to marking the 40th anniversary of SFEMS, next month's concerts also celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Baltimore Consort and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Since 1980, the Baltimore Consort has demonstrated the popular appeal of Renaissance music. They model themselves after a "broken consort," the mixed ensemble of winds, bowed and plucked strings, the preferred arrangement for a dance band during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

The addition of Svonavec's soprano gives the Consort the ability to cover a wide range of popular song as well as instrumental works. With over a dozen CDs and frequent appearances on radio shows such as St. Paul Sunday and Performance Today, it is no surprise they were recognized as Top Classical Crossover Artist of the Year by Billboard magazine.

There are hundreds of references to music in Shakespeare's works. His plays include directions for incidental music-dances, intradas, martial music and more. They also sometimes call for specific songs. Shakespeare himself authored some of their lyrics, which were set by contemporaneous composers. In other cases, he incorporated popular songs well known to his audience. Baltimore Consort's program will include music for ten plays, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello,The Tempest, Twelfth Night, A Winter's Tale, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV and the Merry Wives of Windsor.


December 11 - 13 | Magnificat

Under the direction of Warren Stewart for over 20 years, Magnificat has recreated historical liturgies, performing great works from Monteverdi's Vespers to Charpentier's Midnight Mass in their intended musical context. This season they recreate a Lutheran Mass for Advent, following Leipzig liturgy as Bach himself wrote out on his manuscript score of Cantata 62. The program will include congregational chorales, which the audience will be encouraged to sing.

Founded in 1980 to perform the instrumental music of Shakespeare's time, the Baltimore Consort has explored early English, Scottish and French popular music, focusing on the relationship between folk and art song and dance. Their interest in early music of English and Scottish heritage has also led them to delve into the rich trove of traditional music preserved in North America. Recordings on the Dorian label have earned them recognition as Top Classical-Crossover Artist of the Year (Billboard), as well as rave reviews elsewhere. Besides touring in the U.S. and abroad, they often perform on such syndicated radio broadcasts as St. Paul Sunday, Performance Today, Harmonia and the CBC's OnStage.

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