Those who have enjoyed ye olde Medieval-Renaissance music and dance at the Green Shows of yore and decades of performances of the Ashland-based Terra Nova Consort, here’s good news: its guiding light, Pat O’Scannell, has evolved her creative efforts into a new nonprofit endeavor — Musica Matrix —which stages its inaugural performance Sunday evening, Nov. 20, at Paschal Winery in Talent.
Director and mezzo soprano O’Scannell pairs with lutenist James Bishop-Edwards performing the works of English Renaissance giant John Dowland’s songbook. He was a pioneer in writing highly personal and moving lyrics for his music, says O’Scannell. The show is entitled "Come Again: John Dowland First Book of Songs."
Famed rocker Sting recently learned to play the lute and recorded an album of Dowland's compositions, prompting O’Scannell to note, “The music of Dowland is just gorgeous, and very compelling, regardless of what century he was in. I would call Dowland the Elizabethan Coldplay — such poetic texts and haunting melodies.”
Dowland is best-known for his instrumental pieces, “Lachrimae” (or “Seven Tears”) and "Flow My Tears" which, she says, are “highly personal and tell searing stories of love and life.”
Musica Matrix is an organization engaging youth and the community in promoting an understanding of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music in Southern Oregon and serving as an umbrella for teachers, musicians, singers, conservators, researchers, instrumental craftsmen, dance teachers, writers and experts in early music, according to its mission statement.
Musica Matrix has three facets: school programs, community ensembles and annual concerts, O'Scannell said. It has received grants from the Carpenter Foundation, the Jackson County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Community Foundation, and raised $2,500 at “Music to Your Mouth, A Wine & Hors d’oeuvres Pairing” in October at the Ashland Springs Hotel.
O’Scannell was music director and a performer with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 27 years (and Green Show director from 1990 to 2007), artistic director of Terra Nova Consort, producer of 17 albums, and featured performer at many festivals in North America and Europe, with “outstanding” critical reviews.
Their school programs feature period instruments introduced with lecture demonstrations and collaborations with orchestras and choirs. Their boards includes Stephen Bacon, conservator of the noted Jack Schuman collection of early instruments at Southern Oregon University and Zahara Solomon, teacher of belly dance and other historic dance forms.
Bishop-Edwards has been a performer, teacher, composer and recording artist for more than 35 years. He plays historical instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, including the five-course guitar and eight-course lute. He was head of the Guitar Department at Southern Oregon University in Ashland for several years.
Sunday's show, which is co-presented by the Jefferson Baroque Orchestra, is set to run from 7 to 9 p.m. at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road in Talent. Tickets are on a sliding scale donation ($15-25). There is no reserved seating.
The group's next event features an opening performance the newly formed Gothic Voices Medieval choir, one of Musica Matrix's in-house groups, followed by a performance of “The Zaney Zone” in both Spanish and English in Commedia dell’arte style but with a contemporary take, featuring masks and physical humor. That show starts at the Ashland Community Center at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.
For more, to to www.musicamatrix.org or call 541-535-7957. Children 10 and under are admitted free.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.