The first-ever performance of a new early music group will take the audience on a voyage around mediaeval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and early Baroque Europe.
Sospiri will host a concert at NERAM on Saturday, May 18, at 6pm.
The group consists of Armidale-born soprano Hester Wright, recorder player Dr Alana Blackburn, and UNE Professor Emeritus Michael Atherton AM, musicologist and composer. (Ms Wright and Dr Blackburn performed at NERAM last year.) Special guest Nick Gilbert, Hester's partner, will play the bass.
"Soft the Zephyr Blows" consists of early music from the 1100s to the mid-1600s, including rarely heard gems and favourite Baroque pieces. The winds blow travellers to far-flung places like Spain, the Netherlands, and England.
"It will be a really wonderful, intriguing, and very beautiful evening," Hester said. "We know there's an election going on, and we hope that we will be able to distract people and amuse them for a while."
The audience will be familiar with some songs, Hester said, but there were others even she had never heard of.
Professor Atherton dug up some beautiful songs in four parts from Galicia (mediaeval Spain) - "such expressive music that we couldn't wait to put it together and bring it to people".
There are a couple of Italian pieces: a 13th-century Venetian duet, and Frescobaldi's "Se l'aura spira", about the joys of spring. (You can hear the group's recording here: https://soundcloud.com/user-53646628/se-laura-spira-frescobaldi-sospiri-ensemble.)
Also on the musical menu are bird songs from France and England; and the oldest existing secular love song in the English language, "Bryd one brere" .
Professor Atherton will also perform some of his mediaeval and Renaissance string instruments, including the Renaissance guitar, the lute, the psaltery, the rebec, and the Turkish saz.
Tickets: $30 adults; $25 concession; children under 12 free. Tickets available at the door (cash only) or online at: http://tix.yt/soft-the-zephyr-blows-armidale.