Musicke Antiqua on Christmas Eve

Dressed in period attire, local recorder players bring back the resonance of an under-appreciated medieval instrument.

Dressed in period attire, local recorder players bring back the resonance
of an under-appreciated medieval instrument.

Unlike, say, the polarizing bagpipes, which are either revered or reviled, the poor recorder is most often simply dismissed. In its unfortunate plastic incarnation, the recorder seems to be stuck in the provenance of fourth-grade music class, its players tootling out “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and other grade-school standards, delivered with squeaky apathy.

But it’s time to revisit the recorder’s deep roots, as goes the mission of Musicke Antiqua, a Hendersonville-based group that plays the classics from the age of knights and knaves. Troubadour-style, members stage community concerts from Madison County down to Transylvania, also reviving such rare instruments as crumhorns, gemshorns, and the viola da gamba — a predecessor of the cello for which Henry VIII himself wrote compositions.

Musicke Antiqua’s recorder division is called Camerata, a Renaissance Italian term for a small chamber ensemble. Spokesperson Susan Hartley points out that “16th, 17th, and 18th century audiences knew the recorder as the English Flute. Commoners played it, kings and queens played it, and musicians on the Shakespearian stage used it regularly.” She notes that Master composers such as Telemann, Corelli, Bach, and Handel wrote for the recorder.

“Today, the recorder is sometimes heard as a shrill instrument in elementary-school music classes,” she acknowledges to *Bold Life*. “However, in the hands of a skilled player, it has an exquisite vocal tone.”

In the scope of antiquity — the troupe culls songs from as far back as the 1400s — the recorder is only about 100 years into its revival, and therefore resonant with future prospects. “[We] endeavor to spread the good news about the recorder by introducing it to modern audiences and demonstrating its vast repertoire and possibilities,” says Hartley.

Camerata will perform a concert on Christmas Eve, 10:30-11:30pm, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1659 St. Paul’s Road in Hendersonville). 828-877-6502. For more information, see musickeantiqua.org

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