Sackville Festival of Early Music Unveils 2018 Program                            by Sandy Burnett

This week, the Sackville Festival of Early Music announced its fourteenth annual series of concerts and conversations, to take place from September 17th to 23rd in and around Sackville, New Brunswick.

The announcement invites a question: what is “early music” anyway?

The term as used broadly today describes music of the Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical styles, spanning a time period roughly from 1500 to 1800.  The term also refers to a style of performance that seeks to re-create the sound intended by the original composers, using instruments that date from their time.

This year’s program offers a rich and varied sampler of  early music experiences.

The opening concert, on Friday, September 21st, will illustrate vividly how authenticity and imagination can combine to achieve an exciting re-creation of what music sounded like in earlier times.  The ensemble l’Harmonie des Saisons (Harmony of the Seasons), based in Granby, Québec, will invite the audience to enjoy a musical soirée as it might have taken place in the home of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, in Leipzig, Germany in the mid-1700s.

The following evening, The Rose Ensemble, a talented group based in St. Paul, Minnesota will present Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The program explores the musical interface between three cultures that have shaped the history of Europe for centuries.

The third and final concert, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Septembter 23rd, will feature guitarist Pascal Valois and violinist Jacques-André Houle playing a series of pieces that may well have been premiered in the Concert Spirituel,  a popular concert venue that flourished in Paris between 1770 and 1790.

Of course, music lovers who look forward to the Sackville Festival of Early Music every September know that the concert series is only one part of the event. The festival organizers are dedicated to introducing  school children to their musical heritage and offering opportunities for those who cannot attend conventional concerts to hear excellent performances. Each year, the Festival Outreach Program brings in speakers and muscians to present public talks, conduct hands-on workshops at area schools, and give special performances at the Drew Nursing Home.

This year will be no exception.  The Festival will open with a public presentation by Mount Allison Fine Arts graduate Deanna Musgrave outlining her experience with what she calls “visual music.” The talk will end with performances of Anthony Genges’s piece ”Motion” and Jordan Nobles’s  “Circle of Fifths” performed by Andrew Reed Miller (contrabass), Karin Aurell (flutes), James Kalyn (clarinet), Joël Cormier (percussion).

Next, there will be a master class offered to Mount Allison music students by members of l’Harmonie des Saisons.

And finally, school concerts, offered free of charge, will explore the theme “Sweden’s Secret” featuring Kirsty Money (nyckelharpa) and Jude Pelley (guitar), exploring the dance forms of Swedish traditional music, as well as other repertoire which the nyckelharpa enhances, including baroque repertoire and contemporary songs.