From Krumhorns to Kettledrums: Mixing It Up at Slosberg

Flip through a list of contemporary composers and you’ll find it dotted with the names of Brandeis faculty members and graduates of recent years. Indeed, the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio, which won a special innovation award from IBM earlier this year, keeps the university’s music department on the cutting edge. So it may come as a surprise that, since its inception, Brandeis has provided singers and instrumentalists with an ear on the past.

The university’s Early Music Ensemble — which boasts a large collection of historical instruments including recorders, krumhorns, sackbuts, curtals, viols, lutes, harps and harpsichords — brings together singers and instrumentalists who explore the repertoires of 15th - to 17th-century Europe, from madrigals and dances to motets and fantasias. On Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m., the Slosberg Music Center presents the ensemble in “Power to the Pious,” a program featuring music of the 16th-century Reformation performed on period instruments. “These popular songs and ancient chants, borrowed, harmonized and adapted for devotional singing, were a rich source for piety and praise, reflection and joy,” comments director Sarah Mead.

That same evening at 7 p.m., Slosberg will be the site of a program called Fafali, featuring traditional music and dance from Ghana. Led by master drummer Nani Agbeli, the ensemble performs on bells, rattles and drums with “call-and-response” singing in local languages.