Pax et bonum from the sincerest depths of Fordham’s Medieval Studies faculty and staff! The scented blossoms of spring have forced us to slow down and reflect upon some of the events and opportunities that have graced this rapidly moving Spring semester in 2019. In particular, we look back to the bleak month of February and the congenial warmth of a most memorable concert hosted by the Center for Medieval Studies. On Friday night, February 8 at Fordham Lincoln Center’s McNally Amphitheatre, The Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham, in collaboration with the Art History and Music departments, hosted the celebrated early music ensemble Alkemie during a delightful night that featured the performance of medieval music played on authentically reproduced instruments. Alkemie’s highly distinguished musicians include Tracy Cowart, Elena Mullins, and Sian Ricketts who all provide vocals as well as contribute with various instruments (Sian specializes on the various douçaines and Tracy the Gothic harp). Niccolo Seligmann and David McCormick complete the quintet by adding their vieles and lively percussion. The performance, entitled Cyprus 1400, featured the delicate ars subtilior melodies taken from the Turin manuscript J.ii.9. The upbeat and intimate Cypriot folk music of the island acted as effective intermezzo.

Sian’s collection of douçaines and recorders.

As much scholars as well as musicians, the troupe frequently provides instruction and education concerning period music and instruments. The quintet hosted a Master Class for members of the Fordham community on February 7th, the night preceding the main event. The distinguished musicians have also been involved in helping the Collegium Musicum Fordhamense as the latter group prepared for their much anticipated performance constituting the finale of the Center for Medieval Studies’ annual Spring conference (stay tuned for our synopsis).

Note the five strings on Niccolo’s viele.

It is often lamented by medievalists that there are certain remnants of the past that we moderns may no longer appreciate in their original splendor. We may visit the great cathedrals of Europe and smell therein the incense that ought to, in some way, suspend the object of our nostalgia before our gaze. The atmosphere of warmth and jubilation, kindled so delicately and generously by our five performers, most securely thwarted the lament so shared by members of the discipline. And so it is in the glow and optimism of Spring that we sigh for winter last; The medievalists at Fordham, and assuredly those fortunate enough to appreciate the ‘kyndely’ efforts of our favorite quintet, remain indebted to those most generous and expert performers whose delightful melodies helped access a past often yearned for but rarely embraced as it was this past February.