Center for Old Music

From the Music Director

Joanna Manring

Not long after I moved to Kentucky in the fall of 2011, I met Loren Tice. He recruited me for Musick’s Company before their spring concert, and I found myself part of a warm and welcoming group of musicians who could just pick up and read tricky scores. It was so rewarding! But I became busy directing my church choir and the Transylvania Singers and decided to take a break. When I contacted Loren again this fall to see if he needed another soprano, he countered with “How about you conduct Musick’s Company?” I was stunned. And delighted!

My parents laid out the groundwork for my loving early music: they nearly wore out their LPs of medieval carols and motets at Christmastime. I came to know more old carols than a child has any business knowing. I sang in the madrigal ensemble in high school and every fall semester at college, the Chamber Singers prepared for the Madrigal Christmas Dinner, a dinner theater concert that included dancing, acting and costumes. I loved those events so much that I recreated them when I first started teaching music in college.

More than any other era in the Western tradition, what is classified as “early music” offers a medium through which contemporary listeners can connect to the past in a way they may not be able otherwise. The instruments alone transport us immediately because we hear so little that resembles those timbres in our daily lives. Early music offers a sense of space wherein we experience a measure of contemplation and peace that so many of us desperately need. It is also in this space that we imagine ourselves in a monastery at compline, at a lively wedding dance in a castle with fires blazing, caroling or wassailing through the snow from the blacksmith’s to the door of a nearby manor, or singing madrigals in springtime at a tavern. Imagining years long past allows us to escape and inhabit a different world.

It is with great excitement that I assume the role of director for Musick’s Company. Although I never met Donna Boyd, I can sense her legacy in those she left. I had the privilege of singing in the concert that would become a memorial to her extraordinary life in music. What a joy to be able to feel as though I’m helping her ensemble, even a little, and what a friend and guide I have in Loren, fine musician and human being. I hope you will join us for the tranquility, the romance and the excitement that early music offers here in the Bluegrass.

~ Joanna Manring Davis