Group presents old-time folk songs in new light

Mai Hoang

A large portion of Van Meter Auditorium’s 900 seats were filled Tuesday night to hear the sounds of the Baltimore Consort.

The sextet of musicians takes music from the past and plays it in a way a contemporary audience can understand.

The group, dressed in dark hues of burgundy, turquoise and violet, came on stage at 7:30 p.m., ready to perform their set with several Renaissance instruments.

“This is a unique opportunity to hear different instruments that are not usually available in Bowling Green,” said Graham Hudspeth of Bowling Green.

The concert was part of Western’s Cultural Enhancement Series that brings artists and lecturers of many types on campus for students, faculty and community members to enjoy.

The sextet consists of Mary Anne Ballard, Mark Cudek, Custer LaRue, Larry Lipkis, Ronn McFarlane and Mindy Rosenfeld.

In their 22nd season as The Baltimore Consort, their tour has taken them through the Midwest, into the Ozarks, through Seattle and also through Eastern U.S.

“We’re not only happy to be here tonight, we’re happy to be breathing,” said Cudek about the group’s long lived career.

Tuesday’s concert included many Scottish folk tunes, including love ballads to commemorate Valentine’s Day. All the selections were played to give the program a Celtic mood.

The selections of music were soft and upbeat and came from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries as well as some traditional sounds.

Some of the group’s instruments date back 800 to 1,000 years. The instruments include the lute, a large assortment of flutes, three variations of the viola, a cittern, a rebec, two recorders and the vocals of soprano LaRue.

Audience members tapped along to the melodies as the musicians played. They offered praise not only to the band but also to Western’s Cultural Enhancement Series.

“They are wonderful and I love the selection of music,” said Zee Evelsizer, an office associate for Academic Affairs. “It’s great that this can be brought to Western.”

Ballard told the audience she was happy to be back in Kentucky. She is originally from Louisville and has family throughout the state.

“I may have long-lost cousins here,” she said. “Maybe even Daniel Boone.”

Cudek, LaRue, McFarlane and Rosenfeld are the founding members of the Consort and attended the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. The group was founded in 1980.

The Baltimore Consort’s recordings have earned them recognition in magazines like Billboard and CD Review. Billboard named them Top-Classical-Crossover Artist of the Year.

Darrell Saalwaechter and his wife Rebecca, a Western alumna, spent their 19th wedding anniversary at the concert.

“We loved it,” said Rebecca Saalwaechter. “I am amazed to get this quality of music at Western for free.”

Reach Anthony Hellmueller at [email protected]