Yesterday around 1:30pm I had the pleasure of attending a concert at the Church of the Transfiguration ("the Little Church Around the Corner"). My colleague and friend Amy Bartram, with lutenist Ekko Jennings, performed a handful of 17th century English ballads. Some familiar to me, some new discoveries, they sang and played them beautifully. Amy's voice is light and clear, and goes perfectly with the lute. I enjoyed her historical commentary on the genre of songs and the various tidbits regarding specific songs. I especially liked the story behind England's Joy, set to the tune of Hey Boys up go we. The song has to do with the abolition of the Chimney Tax. Apparently at that time in the 17th century, homes with chimneys, or hearths, were taxed (why, I don't know), and if you couldn't or wouldn't pay that tax, the tax collector could take your belongings, like dishes, pewter, etc. People would run and hide their serving-ware when they saw the tax collector coming. So, there was much celebrating it seems when the tax was repealed. Sounds like a dumb tax to me.
Her compressing of Greensleeves both in tempo and by eliminating so many choruses of "Greensleves was all my joy..." was a great choice and I think better clarified the message of the song. Not just a pretty song to the memory of an ex-lover, it was a list of things he'd given her to "win her love," and when she said "not interested" he got mad and whined about it. I had forgotten that he gave her not just jewelry and dresses, but horses, too!
A beautful gem of a song I'd never heard was the very last one, Love Will find Out the Way. It's a beautiful tune, and I love all the animal references about two-thirds of the way through:
You may train the eagle
To stoop to your fist;
Or you may inveigle
The Phoenix of the east;
The lioness, you may move her
To give over her prey;
But you'll ne'er stop a lover
He will find out the way.
If the earth it should part him,
He would gallop it o'er;
If the seas should o'erthwart him,
He would swim to the shore;
Should his Love become a swallow,
Through the air to stray,
Love will lend wings to follow,
And will find out the way.
I'd seen concert annoucements for a while now of Amy and Ekko's collaborative performances, but hadn't made it to a concert of their's until yesterday. I enjoyed very much Ekko's delicate approach to her lute solos. I'm really glad I got to hear her and hope to hear her again soon.
Additionally, I got a chance to see Mark Mangini, director of the Greenwich Village Singers, with whom I played last May. I also was able to speak with Claudia Dumschat, the Director of the concert series, and it looks like there's a good chance I'll be on the series in the spring. So, watch for me!