For the second time this academic year, Rowan music professor Dr. Lourin Plant led Collegium Musicum in an evening of music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
Collegium Musicums were musical societies that rose to prominence during the Protestant Reformation and generally performed music containing elements of vocal and instrumental music. Performances included amateurs and professionals alike and were often open to the public.
In honoring that tradition, Plant welcomed audience members on April 14 in Boyd Recital Hall to the evening’s festivities entitled “Cornucopia – Abundancia.”
In keeping with the theme of the evening, Plant highlighted the variety of the selections, ensuring there was something for every palate. During a brief introduction Plant discussed the historical implications of the selections as well as displaying several notable works of art in a slideshow such as Peter Paul Rubens’ “Nymphs Filling the Horns of Plenty” which served as ornamentation for the evening’s program. Afterward, Plant declared “Bon Appetit!” and allowed the musicians and their instruments to take control.
“After the fall of Constantinople, a series of wonderful percussion instruments came to us and it is our joy to have them [here] tonight,” Plant said.
He also noted the difficulty in deciphering the sheet music of the time, pointing out that old-fashioned symbols were used to write it.
“This performance is going to be a learning experience,” Plant said during the show’s introduction. “This is our first time using some of these instruments.”
The event featured students from Rowan’s Department of Music as well as other amateur musicians on a variety of stringed and percussion instruments. The evening featured unfamiliar instruments like the crumhorn, hurdy gurdy, lute and sackbut, as well as familiar favorites like the harp, guitar, triangle, tambourine and violin in addition to vocal contributions in a variety of ranges. With Plant at the helm, each of these individual elements came together for the audience’s enjoyment.
Of particular fame was the hurdy gurdy, the second oldest instrument on the stage, second only to the drum. After last semester’s event, Plant told The Whit, “We are finding our way and we’re looking for someone to play our hurdy gurdy for us.” Senior physics major Dan Klehamer accepted this invitation, taking control of the instrument and center stage for the April 14 event.
“I had a blast playing the hurdy gurdy,” Klehamer said. “As an instrument, it is so unique sounding and even just playing it is more engaging than anything else I have ever picked up. I read up on a little bit of the history before I started learning how to play it and I really liked that it was thought of as ‘an instrument of the people.’”
At particularly expressive moments, such as when Klehamer took his leave from the stage and entered from the rear of the hall, audience members could be seen joining in the performers’ elation and tapping their feet along to an unfamiliar, though upbeat, tune.
Throughout the night, the audience was regaled with songs of love and loss from France, Spain and Italy by a handful of composers.
After the last string had been plucked and the echoes of applause drowned, Plant invited the audience on stage with him after the show to experience the historical instruments for themselves.
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