Calliope--the self-styled "Renaissance Band," not the circus organ--brought its talents and a vast array of ancient instruments to the Southland on Thursday for the delectation of a large, tuned-in Ambassador Auditorium audience, some of whose members could be heard humming along to the strains of "Reis Glorios" by Guilart di Borneilh (c. 1140-1189).
But Guilart and the equally worthy Beatrice di Die (1135-1189), were merely the oldest, not necessarily most significant among some 20 composers represented in Calliope's survey of six centuries of European popular music.
The four-member ensemble--Lucy Bardo, Lawrence Benz, Allan Dean, Ben Harms, each doing multiple instrumental duty--whetted appetites for more of the same with their unfailingly lively presentations of repertory seldom encountered in these parts.
The instrumental variety employed for the aforementioned esoterica as well to the familiar "Terpsichore" dances of Michael Praetorius and ditties by Guillaume Dufay and Heinrich Isaac, included shawms, cornettos, crumhorns, recorders, a variety of percussion, viols, vielles (the crwth was conspicuous by its absence) and human voices--all four players also singing with charming simplicity.
Predictably, the quartet scored big with settings of the anonymous medieval hit "L'homme arme," concluding with Calliope's own variations, replete with the most stylish jazz sackbut and cornetto riffs heard here in many a year.