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Baltimore Consort, a Renaissance band of five instrumentalists and vocalist Custer LaRue, will perform on period-style instruments in a Friends of the Williams Center concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at Lafayette College.

The group includes Bethlehem resident and Moravian College music professor Larry Lipkis.

Old carols and dance tunes from the British Isles, France, Germany, and Appalachia will be played, including “Ding Dong Merrily On High,” a 1589 French song; “The Wren Song,” an Irish traditional; “The Ladyes Delight/Jumpe At My Cozen,” an anonymous English tune from 1630-40; “The Old Year Now Away Is Fled,” a 1642 London song sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”; and “Wassail! Wassail All Over The Town!,” a Gloucestershire traditional.

The group has achieved widespread appeal, with many in its audiences enjoying its old instruments for the first time. Instruments include the viol, a leg-held, viola-type instrument; the rebec, a primitive violin; the Baroque guitar; the cittern, a mandolin-type instrument; the lute; and the pennywhistle.

Baltimore Consort was founded in 1980 to perform the music of Shakespeare’s time, exploring English, Scottish and French popular music of the 16th through 18th centuries, as well as German Christmas tunes and Italian music of the Renaissance. The group’s interest in early music also has led it to delve into the rich trove of traditional ballads and dance tunes preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Nova Scotia.

As The Washington Post explains, popular music dominates the group’s selections — “music that was sung, played, danced to, loved by and written for the common people; music you might have heard in the streets, taverns and playhouses rather than the more elaborate and refined music favored in palaces, academic institutions, and cathedrals.”

“You will not find a better renaissance ensemble anywhere,” notes Critic’s Place of WMPB-TV, Baltimore. The Washington Post said of a Baltimore Consort concert, “The performance had a strong orientation to folk music styles, and in its sometimes rough-and-ready way, it seemed precisely right. It was an exhilarating evening.” Adds The Baltimore Sun, “These players are very, very good. Forget about old music’s sounding out of tune or somehow awkward. The Baltimore Consort makes no compromises. These people are virtuosos on everything they play.”

Baltimore Consort has toured extensively in the United States, and in 1992 initiated European touring with appearances in Vienna and Regensburg. The group also has performed in Scotland and The Netherlands. It has become familiar to radio audiences through syndicated broadcasts on St. Paul Sunday, Performance Today, CBC Radio’s On Stage, and on the BBC.

Originating in Baltimore, where for many years it presented a subscription series of early music concerts, Baltimore Consort has enjoyed multi-year residencies at The Walters Art Gallery and The Peabody Conservatory. The group also has participated in residencies at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, Maryland and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Baltimore Consort has released many popular albums on Dorian Recordings, including Bright Day Star, released late in 1994 as “Best Small Ensemble Release” (Allegro), and A Trip to Killburn, named Best Recording of 1996 by The Absolute Sound.

Tickets for the Lafayette concert cost $18 and may be ordered by calling the Williams Center Box Office at 610-330-5009.

The Friends of the Williams Center, now in its inaugural year, is a group of some 240 individuals committed to strengthening the Lafayette College Performance Series and enhancing such programs as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra series, dance performances, and programs in jazz, world music, and theater.

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