Saturday, April 17, 2010

Courtly Noyse at Museum of Art & a visit with a few local birds

Entrance to the San Diego Museum of Arts
I was surfing the internet for classical music groups in San Diego area when I came across the San Diego Early Music Society website and saw a listing of Renaissance music concert at the Museum of Art on Easter Sunday. The MoA being within a walking distance from my pad, I decided to have a go even though I had some misgivings about non-opera music from the Baroque period and before (come to think of it, I even have misgivings about Baroque opera music... The arias are wonderful, but after a bunch of them in a roll they start to sound the same).

Naturally I was most delightfully surprised by how refreshingly diverse and earthy the Renaissance music the Courtlÿ Noÿse early music group played for an hour long concert at the MoA's 2nd floor Hibben Gallery proved to be. Not only did they show up in period costume (and looked good in it!), they also played on period instruments - some that they made themselves!

The 3 women 3 men group performed 19 pieces of music ranging from the late 1300's to mid 1600's. Each musician played multiple instruments and even sang everything from soulful songs of longing to rousing drinking songs that had the audiences swaying and wishing for stein-fuls of beer to pass around to highlight the merry mood with. The voices were quite well trained and cast a hypnotic effect both singing a capella and accompanied by a continuo viola da gamba or a viol.

The program presented was so witty and wisely diversed (and the tone colors of the period instruments were so interesting) that an hour felt like a few minutes. The only glitch was when one of the performers' cellphone rang unanswered during the show (she was a good sport, though, and owned up to it immediately after the song). The enthusiastic crowd didn't mind and successfully demanded a spirited encore number with a prolonged round of applause.

The group also has its first CD, Courtly Noyse: A Portrait, out on sale for $15. You can sample a few track at their website. It is well worth the price!

On the quaky way back home I made a detour through Florida Canyon hiking trail and caught a few local birds along the way. It is amazing how plump and fluffy the hummingbirds look when they are staying still! I wish I have more zoom power on my camera since I couldn't get close enough to many of the shyer birds to get a good photo of them (that redtailed hawk saw me coming from like a mile away!). San Diego is really a great place for bird-watchers... There really are many cool bird species around to see there when you stop to look for them (look for bare-ish branches near the top of flowering trees. Red bottlebrushes are favorites of hummingbirds and hooded orioles!).

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