Quartet Serenades with Shakespeare

By Minna Nizam

On Oct. 5, in honor of Shakespeare’s First Folio coming to Drew, the Concert Hall in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts (DoYo) was filled with the music and melodies from the late-sixteenth-century.

The group responsible for performing these songs, the Ensemble Chaconne, is a world-renowned musical quartet from Boston. Their members include Peter H. Bloom on Renaissance flute, Carol Lewis on viola da gamba, Olav Chris Henriksen on Renaissance lute and Burcu Gulec as mezzo-soprano. Some of the notable venues they perform at internationally are the National Gallery in London and Jordan Hall in Boston.

Open for the general public to enjoy, their concert in the DoYo, entitled “Measure for Measure: The Music of Shakespeare’s Plays,” allowed the audience to experience authentic music from the playwright’s time. Their use of different instruments from the Renaissance, accompanied by Gulec’s beautiful singing, directly transported listeners to the Elizabethan era.

In particular, one Drewid, Kayla D’Oyen (’17), noted that the music helped her to connect with the literature of Shakespeare. She said, “I loved this concert because it provided me with a soundtrack for his work.”

This was certainly a sentiment that the entire audience shared because throughout the night. The Ensemble Chaconne performed different themed sets relating to the music of Shakespeare’s plays. One set included actual songs implemented into his productions, like “La Volto” from Henry V (1599). Others contained popular melodies relevant during Shakespeare’s life, such as Greensleeves. However, the most well received set of the night was the selections from “Hamlet.”

One song in particular that resonated with the audience was “Valentine’s Day,” sung originally by the character Ophelia in Act 4. The dramatic sounds echoing from Lewis’ viola helped set the somber tone of the melody. Bloom’s flute solo added a whimsical element to the tune. Once the song came to a close, the entire audience clapped enthusiastically.

Emmanuel Quinones (’20) remarked, “I enjoyed the singing and all of the instruments they used. I always love the songs from that era.”

Shakespeare’s First Folio is currently on view in Mead Hall Oct. 6-30. Drew students will also be performing “Hamlet” October 19-29.

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