This month's Peabody on the Court series spotlights S'amusant, a new early music group, from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, in the Walters Art Museum's Renaissance Sculpture Court. This installment of the free series, a partnership between the neighboring Mount Vernon institutions, was curated by John Belkot, a doctoral student in Peabody's Composition Department.
Peabody alumni Wade Davis (baroque cello) and Melissa Wimbish (soprano) and current graduate student Patrick Merrill (harpsichord) formed S'amusant last year and quickly caught Belkot's ear. The concert is inspired by early-17th-century lute songs and features songs and music by John Dowland, Christopher Simpson, and William Byrd, and the premiere of Belkot's A Valediction: Of Weeping, a setting of John Donne's poem for soprano, harpsichord, and cello written especially for S'amusant.
Belkot notes that contemporary music programming typically falls into three categories: orchestras performing short contemporary works before the main program, composers/musicians responding to amplified music and performing in bars, and composer collectives or new music ensembles playing entirely contemporary repertoires.
He wanted to combine old and new music to be played in the Walters' inspiring setting. "I am a composer of new music, but my experience as a performer and scholar of early polyphony frequently informs my palette," Belkot writes in an email. "It is a rare privilege to have an extremely talented and vibrant ensemble like S'amusant eagerly perform repertoire separated by 500 years."
The series returns on May 1, 2015, when celebrated South African cellist Jacques-Pierre Malan, a current Peabody performance diploma candidate studying under Amit Peled, performs.