Early music from Scotland via Baltimore on tap in Hilo

  • Courtesy photo The musicians of the Baltimore Consort will perform at the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center on Friday.

“It ought to be offensive that the most exhilarating Scots music performance to turn up on our native soil this year should come from America.”

So wrote the music critic for The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper, about a recent concert of early and traditional music of Scotland by the Baltimore Consort, who have been delighting audiences on both sides of the Atlantic for 40 years. At 7:30 p.m. Friday the consort will bring this irresistible music to a Hilo audience at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center.

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The concert, part of the Hawaii Concert Society’s 58th season, is supported by a grant from the Western States Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Baltimore Consort was founded at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in 1980. Its present membership features instrumentalists Larry Lipkis, Mary Anne Ballard, Mark Cudek, Ronn McFarlane, Mindy Rosenfeld, and singer Danielle Svonavec. Among the instruments to be heard are the rebec, cittern, flutes, lutes, whistles, assorted viols, recorder, and last but not least, the crumhorn.

Early Scottish music is a magical array of the courtly and native folk arts. The royal court itself absorbed the most enchanting and rarified styles from its neighbors to the South — the English, French, Netherlandish, and Italian. Long after the court of James VI of Scotland had moved to England in 1603, the Scots who remained in the north self-consciously preserved their musical heritage.

The Hilo program will explore the secular music, both courtly and native, of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Scotland.

Although it is gleaned from a far-away time and place, the music still sounds fresh. “People really like the sound because it reminds them to some degree of bluegrass, jazz, and folk rock,” said Lipkis, who at various times will be playing viols and the soprano recorder.

He and Rosenfeld will take turns on the crumhorn, whose sound somewhat resembles the combination of an oboe and an electric shaver.

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“It’s going to be entertaining, with lots of variety,” Lipkis continued. “Whether or not you’ve heard this music before, you’re going to be very pleased.”

Tickets for the Friday concert ($25 general / $20 seniors / $10 students) are available at the Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo, Music Exchange, and the UH-Hilo PAC Box Office. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door from 6:45 p.m.

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