Gallery Concerts presents two concerts of English music this weekend dedicated to the memory of the late Margriet Tindemans, a viol player and tremendous force in Seattle for early music. Guest artists Ellen Hargis (soprano) and Mary Springfels (viola da gamba) join harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree.
For music lovers, every era has its charms.
But there’s something about the 100 years spanning the 1580s to the 1680s that has a particular zing for fans of chamber music. Designed for smaller spaces than today’s 2,500-seat symphony halls, this intimate and infinitely varied music is the purview of Seattle’s 29-year-old concert series, Gallery Concerts.
This weekend, Gallery Concerts presents two concerts of English music of this era for soprano, viol (also called “viola da gamba”) and harpsichord by three eminent performers: soprano Ellen Hargis, viol player Mary Springfels and series founder Jillon Stoppels Dupree, a harpsichordist. The program is dedicated to the memory of the late Margriet Tindemans, a Dutch-born and Seattle-based musician/teacher whose dedication, skill, impact and lively spirit continues to inspire former colleagues and students.
The “Gallery Concerts” name, explains Dupree, reflects the original concept for the group: presenting concerts in the region’s art galleries. Unfortunately, however, this format proved unworkable: Concert programs are formulated a long time in advance, and art galleries needed more flexibility in scheduling.
“We needed to plan further in advance than they could,” Dupree explains. The series eventually found an appropriate home in the warm acoustics of the Queen Anne Christian Church, a 135-seat venue that also is home to such musical groups as the Seattle Art Song Society and the Musique du Jour chamber series.
“There’s a sense of the whole community being a part of the music,” says Dupree of the church. “We love the ambience; it’s like performing in our living room. There isn’t a bad seat in the house.” The only concern about the venue is whether Gallery Concerts may eventually outgrow it; the group has had several sellouts.
This weekend’s program, which Dupree describes as “very springlike,” offers several English secular songs about love and nature inspired by the season, along with solo and ensemble works — including harpsichord solos from the famous Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (a nearly 300-piece collection of Elizabethan and early Jacobean keyboard music). Among the featured composers are Henry Purcell, John Blow, John Dowland and William Byrd. The program will alternate sections of songs with interludes of instrumental music.
The colorful titles reflect the music’s moods: “Cupid, the Slyest Rogue Alive,” “Flow My Tears,” “From Rosy Bow’rs,” “Love, I Obey,” “The Fall of the Leafe,” “Love and I of Late Did Part,” “Johnny Cock Thy Beaver.” (That last one is a lively Scottish jig that refers to a “beaver top-hat,” popular attire for 18th-century fashionable men.)
The group’s annual concert in memory of Tindemans (who died in 2014) is special to these three performers, who all worked closely with her over the course of many years. Dupree calls Tindemans “so welcoming, so generous and open to others’ ideas, and such an excellent teacher that everyone around her learned something from her amazing mind. It was wonderful to organize a program with her: She knew every tune, every key it was in and what other pieces would go well with it.”
Joining Dupree in this weekend’s concerts will be soprano Ellen Hargis, a famous early-music figure who is co-director of Chicago’s eminent Newberry Consort, and highly regarded violist da gamba Mary Springfels (one of the founders of the Newberry, which she directed for 20 years). All three musicians knew Tindemans well. Hargis, who toured and taught with her, fondly remembers her “insatiable curiosity about everything. She was inspiring — scholarly, technical and very funny. We would get the giggles — even on stage!”
Hargis’ own musical curiosity has led her in many interesting directions. She is an impassioned teacher (at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Case Western University) and a sought-after performer in early-music ensembles. But you’ll also find her unearthing and editing what she calls a “treasure chest of gorgeous music” from a 17th-century Mexico City convent.
Springfels, an acknowledged master of Tindemans’ own instrument, has a long and storied history with such groups as the New York Pro Musica, the Waverly Consort, Folger Consort, Sequentia, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the New York City Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. A highly regarded teacher, she has relocated to the Southwest and has recently performed with Bach festivals in California, Arizona and Texas. She’ll be featured in this weekend’s Gallery Concerts program as a soloist and also in ensembles.
Gallery Concerts’ plans for the 30th anniversary next season are meanwhile taking shape, with the group’s new artistic director, Nathan Whittaker, on board. He and Dupree are planning to branch out: music for larger ensembles, some community outreach ideas, even some contemporary repertoire composed for baroque instruments. The world is their “Gallery.”
Gallery Concerts presents “Strike the Viol,” English music for voice, viol and harpsichord, in honor of the late Margriet Tindemans, with Ellen Hargis, Mary Springfels and Jillon Stoppels Dupree. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 15; Queen Anne Christian Church, 1316 Third Ave. W., Seattle; $15-$35, ages 7-15 free; 206-726-6088, galleryconcerts.org.