Collectio Musicorum

Fri, 12 Apr 2024 8:00 pm


CollectioMusic from English Court Masques

The English Court Masque was the most extravagant theatrical event of its time. Evolving during the 16th century, it reached its climax in productions at the court of King James I and his successors in the 17th century. Wildly elaborate and focusing on praising the monarch, these theatrical extravaganzas featured both professional and amateur performers, and combined florid poetry and music with sumptuous scenery and costumes.

It is not possible to resurrect masques in the 21st century; too much source material has disappeared. However, enough music has survived to present a concert of selections from several of them, and that is what Collectio Musicorum, under the direction of its artistic director Jeff S. Dailey, will do on Friday, April 12th. Dr. Dailey, joined by tenor Alex Longnecker, gambist Patricia Ann Neely, and lutenist Christopher Morrongiello, will perform highlights from four 17th-century masques — Lord Hay’s MasqueThe Masque of BeautyThe Masque of Queens, and The Masque of Oberon.

The Jacques Marchais Museum provides a suitably exotic setting for this music. Constructed in 1947 to imitate a Himalayan temple, it will be illuminated by candlelight to evoke the luxurious surrounding of the Stuart court. In her 2022 book, The Buddha and the Bard, author Lauren Shufran draws connections between Buddhist teachings and Shakespeare’s plays. While she acknowledges that Shakespeare did not reference Buddhist texts in his works, she points out that he drew upon problems of the human condition, and that the Buddha did the same. This concert, unlike Collectio Musicorum’s last performances, will not contain texts by Shakespeare, but will focus, instead, on lyrics by his younger colleague, Ben Jonson, who wrote the poem eulogizing Shakespeare in the First Folio. Jonson, the principal masque writer of the early 17th century, was also a convicted murderer, who avoided hanging through a legal technicality. He was also a prolific annotator of the human condition.

The music for these masques is by a variety of composers, including Robert Johnson, Thomas Campion (who also wrote some of the texts), Thomas Lupo, and Alfonso Ferrabosco.

Dr. Jeff S. Dailey, a longtime friend of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, has been displaying his collection of Himalayan musical objects at the Museum since 2021. In April 2024, part of his collection will be exchanged with new objects and instruments never before seen by the public. This performance celebrates this collection update.

Collectio Musicorum celebrates 10 years of concerts this year, and is pleased to return to Staten Island, the location of its first performance.

Friday, April 12 at 8 pm
Followed by a reception

Tickets: $15

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, 338 Lighthouse Avenue, Staten Island

Accessed on the S54, S74, and S84 buses and the #15 SIM express bus
See a Staten Island bus map here

More info & tickets

GEMS is a non-profit corporation that supports and promotes the artists and organizations in New York devoted to early music — playing repertoire from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical periods.