January of 2014 - The 49th annual Iowa State University Madrigal Dinner
How many years have we been here?
How many years are we supposed to be here?
I'm finally done tuning, and I think I'll please the King with a longer tune this year.
So here it is.
How old am I really? I think I said "25."
The King and Queen always have too much fun!.
Were we more organized at Drake's Madrigal
Antiqua racticed for the coming article in featured in the Ames Tribune
Julie Ferrell, Staff Writer for the Ames Tribune came and brought
She took the above photo and the photo used in the following Sunday issue of the Ames Tribune.
The Tribune Website photo caption: Dee Dreeszen plays a crumhorn as part of Musica Antiqua,
a local group that plays music from the Renaissance and Middle Ages on authentic instruments.
The group will perform at the ISU Madrigal Dinner later this month.
The newspaper photo caption:
"Carl Bleyle, center, plays a crumhorn while Alan Spohnheimer plays a cornamuse as part of Musica Antiqua,
a local group that plays music from the Renaissance and Middle Ages on authentic instruments."
The Iowa State Madrigal Dinner gives the Ames community a taste of the Renaissance each year. Members of the Iowa State Singers perform throughout the evening, but other smaller community groups help to bring an authentic feel to the event.
One of those groups is Musica Antiqua, a local ensemble that plays authentic instruments traditionally used in the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Founded by ISU President W. Robert Parks in 1967, the first year the university began to train students for a music degree.
Musica Antiqua began with three authentic musical instruments.
Carl Bleyle, director of the group, credited Parks with the group’s success.
Since starting almost 50 years ago, the group now has over 100 instruments
on-hand and has traveled to conventions across the country. Alan
Spohnheimer and Dee Dreeszen have been musicians in the group since the
beginning. Spohnheimer was a freshman, and one of the original four
music majors at Iowa State, when the class was originally offered.
While the idea started as a simple credit course, Spohnheimer said the
project “mushroomed” over the years. “The basic team here stayed
with it all the time. Then we not only played the Madrigal Dinner,
but schools would ask for something,” Spohnheimer said. “We’ve played for
Drake (University’s) madrigal dinner for 23 years,
Now Spohnheimer and Dreeszen, along with musicians Steve Kelleher and Bleyle, bring their instruments across the country to conventions, classes and Renaissance fairs. Spohnheimer said their performances are rarely in large concert halls, but instead stick to smaller chamber venues or at outdoor festivals, where the music would typically be played in the Renaissance. With the help of the ISU Theatre costuming department, the group has realistic European costumes to perform in, and Bleyle said they strive for an authentic feel all the way down to the type of material in the instruments. “These are not plastic things,” Bleyle said, picking up an intricately carved wooden miniature pipe organ called an organetto. “These are made out of the best of woods, precious woods like sycamore, maple, walnut.”
Some of the group’s instruments, like Bleyle’s pipe organ, are the only ones in the country. The small pipe organ is the most intricately decorated and carved instrument of its kind, making it one of the staple pieces of their collection. The instruments in the collection span from the 12th to 17th centuries and include a wide range of wind and string instruments.
While Bleyle said the group hasn’t counted their official stock for
a while, the roughly 100 instruments also include several variations on
one piece. For instance, the group has a collection of eight recorders,
each made in a different size to create different notes. The smallest
recorder makes it difficult to play with large fingers while the largest
of the collection requires Spohnheimer to tilt the instrument up on a chair
in order to reach the farthest fingerings. While the instruments
are not original pieces used during the
“They take one look at this and say, ‘Oh, you’re going to play your trombone.’ The word ‘trombone’ hadn’t even been invented in the 14th century,” Spohnheimer said. “So they called it something that translates today to ‘push, pull.’ They called it the ‘sacbut.’ So you try telling that to a middle school band.”
Bleyle said each instrument is roughly 40 to 50 years old and were originally made in Europe. Bleyle then buys the instruments from a supplier on the East Coast, but said the small market means the group needs to take extra care of their pieces. “Most of the instruments we have are irreplaceable. Not only do we have instruments that are authentic, but very few authentic instruments are being built today. So we have a good collection,” Bleyle said. “The audiences are well-behaved because they see these things and want to know what they are. Because they’ll probably never see these again.”
The Queen and King are pleased
Alan with the hurdy-gurdy
2 - Another Song - (1.8 mb MP3)
3 - Yet
another Song - (1.8 mb MP3)
She waits on one more table.
Musica Antiqua Photo Album
Musica Antiqua Home