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Medieval musical performance celebrates exhibit

Early Music Consort of El Paso will present "Martyrs, Miracles and Songs of Mary" June 2 at Christ the King Cathedral as an introduction to the Vatican's exhibit of frescoes opening that day at the Museum of Texas Tech.
Sue Arnold
Ancient music and ancient images are poised to transport medieval Rome to 21st century West Texas.

From the musical side, a production by the Early Music Consort of El Paso titled "Martyrs, Miracles and Songs of Mary," has been scheduled at 7:30 p.m. June 2 at Christ the King Cathedral, 4011 54th St.

The performance is designed as a celebratory introduction to the Vatican's exhibit of frescoes, opening June 2 at the Museum of Texas Tech.

The musical program has been adapted from a collection of music titled "Cantigas de Santa Maria," or "Songs of Mary," composed and compiled by 12th-century Spanish King Alfonso X.

Stories of miracles attributed to Mary will be told by troubadour Michael Morgan and accompanied by singing and playing of period instruments.

photo: news
  Early Music Consort of El Paso members play replicas of instruments used in medieval times.  
The Early Music Consort plays replicas of historic instruments, according to Sue Arnold, music director at Christ the King Cathedral.

The group has performed throughout the Southwest and in various public schools under the auspices of the El Paso Museum of Art and the Chamizal National Memorial Theater. Early Music has given staged presentations of Elizabethan jigs as well as music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Arnold said copies of early instruments that will be used include the vielle, harp, recorder, psaltry, lute and tuned bells.

"They play medieval music, and medieval music has a strange sound because it is sort of empty and haunting, and very mysterious," Arnold said. "It is a thinly textured music that's very early — it's some of the earliest music written.

"This would have been music that would have been familiar to some of the people who painted the frescoes. The type of musical sound would have been that simplistic."

Musical program

• Title — "Martyrs, Miracles and Songs of Mary."

• When — 7:30 p.m. June 2.

• Where — Christ the King Cathedral, 4011 54th St.

• Music group — Early Music Consort.

• Admission — Free, though donations are invited.

• Purpose — To celebrate the frescoes exhibit.

• Information — 792-6168.

She said the psaltry is a small handheld harp, and a recorder is a wooden flute that makes a very soft sound. An early violin from the collection also makes a soft sound.

"They are not like the modern instruments we are used to, so they're not as loud," she said. "They are softer, and they have sort of haunting, captivating sounds."

How will West Texans react?

"I think they will love it, because it will be costumed and there is some dramatic reading," Arnold said. "It's very early liturgical music."

Admission is free, though donations are invited.

According to Arnold, the musical program is planned as an accompaniment to the exhibit of frescoes.

"The sounds would correlate to the paintings visitors would see at the museum. That's why we are doing it."

rwestbrook@lubbockonline.com 766-8711

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