This past Monday, the Collegium Musicum, a group that dedicates itself to performing music from hundreds of years ago, had a concert covering songs from over 700 years of music history in Boyd Hall in Wilson Hall.
The repertoire of music was broken up into five sections, covering music from the Middle Ages to the early Baroque period and from various countries, including France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
Collegium Musicum is the only ensemble at Rowan University dedicated to playing this genre of music. Unlike most ensembles — where the director of the group conducts during the concert — Dr. Lourin Plant, a professor of vocal and choral music and the director of Collegium Musicum, prefers to sit down and play along with his musicians.
“Collegium Musicum is a chamber ensemble, so I don’t want to direct too much,” Plant said. “I want to just start them and let them go on their own as a group. They don’t need me beating a pattern. They just need me to get them started.”
The concert featured replicas of many different period instruments, such as the harpsichord, mandoline, hurdy gurdy and more. Many students learned how to play these instruments solely for the purpose of this concert, one of the many efforts made to make the sound of the music as authentic as possible.
“When you’re dealing with period music — especially with early music — there are performing conventions, different methods of tuning, note series, different instruments altogether and different styles of performing,” said Kenny Carson, a sophomore music major with a concentration in oboe who played the crumhorn and recorders during the concert. “The further we go back in history, the less we know about how they [performed]. We try to get as close as we can to how they performed back then.”
Collegium Musicum is offered as a one-credit course, yet due to the different schedules of various types of music majors, as well as non-music majors in the group, it can be difficult to meet and rehearse. The concert marked just the second or third time the ensemble got together to play the music, Plant said.
Love for music, especially music from this time period, drives students to add Collegium Musicum to their schedule, despite their other conflicts. One such student is David McCafferty, a freshman music performance major who played bass crumhorn, bass recorder and the Baroque flute during the concert.
“I get a well-rounded background in music,” McCafferty said. “In my regular classes, I study classical, sometimes contemporary music, and different genres throughout the eras, but this is the one time I get to be closer with music I personally love the most, which is early music.”
Megan Messina, a senior music education major who played the violin during the concert, said she felt inclined to join due to her fondness of Plant.
“My favorite part of being in Collegium Musicum [is] having a strong connection with my professor,” Messina said. “He’s such a happy person and so enthusiastic about everything.”
Vastly different from modern music, songs from these eras not only use different instruments, but have a different sound altogether.
“It’s so different from what we’re used to now,” said Kyle Sheppard, a sophomore organ performance major. “It’s very basic and minimal, yet they can be so creative and so beautiful without doing a whole lot with the music.”
Anisa Adkins, a junior music education major, has sung music from this era in the past and understands the effort that goes into the genre.
“Music from this era is so simplistic,” Adkins said. “You think it’s not complex, but it is. I thought it would be easy, but it’s not. The simplistic complexity of it all is quite amazing.”
In addition to music majors who were familiar with the music, there were newcomers in the audience as well who had never heard music from this era.
“It’s a lot more upbeat than you would think,” said Olivia Grasso, a freshman history and modern languages and linguistics major. “While [the songs] had similar elements, they still sounded different. It was very interesting to see the different instruments and sounds.”
Plant was extremely happy to work with a group of talented students on music he finds extremely fascinating.
“I’m very proud of them,” Plant said. “They bit off a huge chunk of music over a long period and they did it in very little rehearsal time. I was very pleased for them.”
– Featured image: Catherine Sabin sings as the rest of the members of Collegium Musicum play a piece from the Middle Ages. The group focues on music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque periods. – Photo Editor/Justin Fata
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