Mark the Music!

The second semester of Conversatio is all about discovering the good life and role that the liberal arts play in a fulfilling human life. During the Art and Society unit we read Shakespeare's Tempest, both as an example of the role that poetry and drama can play and for its discussion of the importance of art in human life. In the Tempest, as in all of his plays, Shakespeare is sensitive to the music in his language and in the rhythms of everyday life and the natural world. The unit also features a concert by Anselmian music students and faculty.

If music be the food of love, play on
(Shakespeare – Twelfth Night)


Gary_Bouchard-Saint-Anselm-College-English-DepartmentThis Spring there will be a special event included in the unit as part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.  Professor Bouchard, of the English department, who also organizes the annual birthday celebration reading of Shakespeare's sonnets on campus, has arranged for a special concert and program by Ensemble Chaconne:  Measure for Meaure: The Music of Shakespeare's Plays, to be sponsored by Conversatio, the English Department, and the Fine Arts Department. Ensemble Chaconne is a group of three musicians that have been performing Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments since 1985. The concert includes songs from Shakespeare as well as music from the period that his audiences would have heard. You can hear some samples of their music here: .

The concert promises to be a unique opportunity for Conversatio to underscore the relevance of Shakespeare, on this anniversary on his death, as well as the centrality of music to the good human life. After all, as Shakespeare says:

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music (The Merchant of Venice.)

You can find out more about Ensemble Chaconne and the performance below:


ENSEMBLE CHACONNE   30th Season, 2015-2016

Peter H. Bloom, renaissance flutes; Carol Lewis, viola da gamba; and Olav Chris Henriksen, renaissance lutes

With guest artist Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano


Audio (click and scroll down for Shakespeare music):


Hailed for “vitality and character….style and verve,” (MusicWeb International), Ensemble Chaconne concertizes in England, Ontario, and throughout the United States. The ensemble has performed at London’s National Gallery, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s residency at Davidson College, the 40th Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America, the Yale Center for British Art, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and other noted institutions, and at hundreds of colleges and universities.  The group has given more than 60 performances of the Shakespeare concert across the country.


Measure for Measure: The Music of Shakespeare's Plays has been praised as "the perfect Elizabethan evening" (The Portland Press Herald).  The concert offers a rare view of the music that Shakespeare's audiences would have heard, including music by Thomas Morley, Robert Johnson, and other composers of the time.  Performed on Renaissance instruments, the concert includes songs from As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and other plays.  


Among the many selections are the famous “Willow Song,” sung by Desdemona in Othello “It Was a Lover and His Lasse” (As You Like It); “O Mistress Mine” (Twelfth Night); “Hark, Hark! The Lark” (Cymbeline); “Take O Take Those Lips Away” (Measure for Measure); “Full Fathom Five” (The Tempest); "Go from My Window” from Ophelia’s mad scene in Hamlet; and “Greensleeves,” the well-known ballad tune (quoted in The Merry Wives of Windsor).

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