Period Music and Dance Highlight

April 7th, 2005 by Adam
Plymouth State University will host the26th annual gathering of medieval and Renaissance scholars on campus Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16. Two special programs will add to the festivities.

Friday from 8:15 – 10 p.m. soprano, poet and visual artist Nancy Knowles will perform songs of Medieval Spain. Harking back to an age when feminine virtues were a source of inspiration, praised in song and verse, Voice of the Rose: The Sacred Feminine features the evocative solo repertoire of medieval Spain. With passionate singing and haunting flutes, Knowles tells tales of sisters, mothers,
Holy Mary and Mary Magdalene; of birth, of mourning and
of pilgrimage. All three cultures of medieval Spain—Jewish,
Muslim and Christian will be represented.

Knowles has toured widely throughout the U.S. and Europe
for more than 25 years, performing at festivals such as
the Holland and Regensburg Festivals, Musica en
Compostela, the Boston Early Music Festival and the
Guitar Foundation of America Festival. She can be heard
on seven recordings (Titanic Records, Musical Heritage
Society Centaur Records and Gyre). Her most recent CD,
released in 2004, is Duo LiveOak’s album Woman of the
Water, songs by Frank Wallace.

The Falmouth Enterprise wrote, “A spellbinding
performance… Nancy Knowles [sang] a set of medieval and
Sephardic wisdom songs with astonishing presence and
breath control that were equally present in her soulful
playing of a reed flute from India. Her soprano voice
resonated as if she were singing in a medieval

Voice of the Rose will
be hosted by the Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal) at
the church building on North Main Street in Plymouth.

A highlight of programming on Saturday will
be a workshop on medieval and Renaissance dance by the Ken
Pierce Dance and Music Ensemble
, from 5-6:30
p.m. in Heritage Commons in Hall Residence Hall
Highland Street in Plymouth. Participants are invited to learn
medieval and Renaissance dances
from Pierce, accompanied
by authentic musical instruments. Cost for the workshop, which is
open to the public, is $5 per person.

Pierce is director of the early dance program at the Longy School
of Music in Cambridge, Mass., and a veteran specialist in early
dance, particularly dance of the late-Renaissance and Baroque
eras. He has 20 years’ experience as choreographer,
reconstructor, performer, teacher and scholar. He trained in
ballet and modern dance at the American Ballet Theatre School and
the Merce Cunningham Studio, and has performed with the Court
Dance Company of New York, the New York Baroque Dance Company,
Ris et Danceires (Paris); Danse Baroque, (Toronto); the Baroque
Dance Trio, and HÈmiole (Paris) which he co-founded.

Recent choreographies include dances for Les ElÈments, Les
Festes d’HÈbÈ, Tirsi e Clori and Les Festes de l’Amour
et de Bacchus. His choreographic credits also include King Arthur
at the Boston Early Music Festival and le Mariage de la Grosse
Cathos at the Amherst Early Music Festival. Pierce was assistant
choreographer for Quelques pas graves de Baptiste, Francine
Lancelot’s Baroque-style piece for the Paris Opera Ballet,
whose cast included Rudolph Nureyev. He has taught at summer
dance and music workshops in the United States and abroad, and
this spring he is visiting artist at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, where he is creating a baroque dance piece. The
Ken Pierce Ensemble will perform at the authentic Medieval Feast
that follows the workshop. Tickets for the Medieval Feast are $26
by advance reservation.

Funding for Ken Pierce’s workshop at Plymouth State
University is provided in part by the New England Foundation for
the Arts (NEFA) as part of the NEA Regional Touring Program. NEFA
receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts
(NEA) with additional support from the state arts agencies of New

For further information on the feast and other program events,
visit the Medieval & Renaissance Forum Web site, or
contact Dr. Naomi Kline at
(603) 535-2280.