Renaissance Folk Music to Launch 2017-18 “Resonance” Series




When the musicians of Ayreheart come to Chestertown next month, they’ll bring a mix of sounds they love to share, from the haunting purity of Renaissance art music to timeless folk songs.

The first concert of the National Music Festival’s 2017-18 Resonance concert series, at 7:30 pm on October 7th at Sacred Heart Church, will feature ancient music played by Ronn McFarlane (lute) and his colleagues Brian Kay (vocals, lute, komuz), Willard Morris (colascione), and Mattias Rucht (percussion).  Now a GRAMMY-nominated classically trained master, McFarlane first taught himself to make music at thirteen on a “cranky sixteen-dollar steel-string guitar.”

McFarlane started Ayreheart expecting that he would write and perform lute solos that would appeal to a wide audience, but soon he invited Morris, Rucht and Kay to join him.  Today, their sound is a blend of lute, vocals, komuz, colascione, and percussion.

Some of these historical instruments may be unfamiliar. The lute is a plucked string instrument that was used in an extraordinary range of music from the Medieval through the Baroque eras; it was particularly important in the Renaissance. The komuz is an ancient fretless string instrument, and the colascione is a type of long-necked Italian lute.

The boundaries of the music Ayreheart plays are ever-moving, the kinds of music they and their audiences love.  On October 7, Ayreheart offers “Will You Walk The Woods So Wild,” a program of Renaissance music from the British Isles. Music of John Dowland, William Byrd, and John Johnson will be featured, as well as old ballad tunes from England, Scotland, and Wales.

NMF’s Music Director Richard Rosenberg says Ayreheart’s mix of “high art and folk music” has a universal appeal.  “This concert offers an opportunity for us to hear Renaissance music much as audiences of the time would have heard it,” he says. The music to be performed ranges from the 13th century through the 17th century, taking the listener on a historical and musical journey.

For the maximum musical experience throughout the year, purchase the NMF Annual Pass, which at $300 is your best value for access to all six Resonance concerts, plus entrance to all ticketed events at the 2018 National Music Festival, a souvenir Festival Guide, and an invitation to the Pass-Holders only dessert reception, beautifully catered by the National Music Festival Hospitality Committee.

For just the year-round chamber music events, a Resonance Pass is available for $100; for just the 2018 National Music Festival, purchase a Festival Pass. Festival Passes are priced at $225 through the end of the year; the price increases to $250 as of January 1.

Single tickets are available for this and other Resonance concerts at $20 each; children and students are $5 each. (Please be prepared to show a school ID for students over the age of 14.)

Tickets are available at, P.O. Box 284, Chestertown, MD 21620, or at the door.

The Resonance season will continue with members of the Annapolis Symphony on November 12 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s, Kent. The season will continue in the New Year with concerts every month from January through April, culminating in a performance by the acclaimed Jasper String Quartet (former mentors at the National Music Festival at Washington College) on April 14, 2018.

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