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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Old music will sound new


Classical music is flourishing, filling niches hardly imagined a generation or two ago. Today's eclectic concerts look sideways across cultures, forward into a bright digital future, or backwards to a vital past. Often they mix the three.

The New Renaissance Ensemble, made up of Toledo Symphony wind, brass, and string players, explores the sounds of late 16th century Italy tonight in the program "Canzona: Music of Giovanni Gabrieli and his Venetian Contemporaries" at Corpus Christi University Parish.

"Our idea is to take a look at Renaissance equal-voice polyphony, but play it on modern instruments," said violinist and recorder player David Dyer, an early music specialist who founded the ensemble.

"This is music on the edge between the Renaissance and the Baroque. It is also music that marks the traditional limits of the symphonic repertoire. Both of those things make it great to explore," he said.

The music is old enough that it is outside today's musical conventions. Curiously, that means the concert should sound rather new to the modern ear.

Indeed, listeners will be struck with the quarter-comma meantone intonation, which uses scale degrees that lie in the cracks between the keys of a piano. Also, instead of one dominant melody, as is the case with today's music, the focus is on the counterpoint between melodies of relatively equal importance. Meter tends to be vivacious, changing with quicksilver frequency.

This is the first of three New Renaissance Ensemble concerts to be offered through funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The other two will be given next season.

The New Renaissance Ensemble presents "Canzona: Music of Giovanni Gabrieli and his Venetian Contemporaries" at 7 tonight in Corpus Christi University Parish, 2955 Dorr Street. The concert is free. Information: 419-472-0319.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:


or 419-724-6152.

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