CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 12, 1999
Ensemble for Early Music performs medieval musical drama March 30
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Ensemble for Early Music will present a dramatic
staging of "Sponsus: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins"
at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 30 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of
Frederick Renz, director of the ensemble, will lead a pre-performance
discussion at 7 p.m. in the Hancher Greenroom with Connie Berman of the
UI history department. The discussion will be free to interested performance
The UI School of Music and Lutheran Campus Ministry have organized an
accompanying symposium 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 27 at Old Brick.
For information, contact George Nickelsburg in the UI School of Religion
Along with the 45-minute play, the Ensemble for Early Music will perform
other music from the 11th and 12th centuries.
"Sponsus," an 11th-century play from the Abbey of Saint-Martial
in Limoges, France, dramatizes a New Testament parable of the Second Coming
and Judgment Day. Matthew 25:1-13 tells of the Wise Virgins, who make certain
that they have oil for their lamps and are thus able to meet the Bridegroom
at midnight, and the Foolish Virgins whose imprudence renders them unworthy.
The fully staged production, performed in Latin and French, was commissioned
by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A full translation of the text will
be mailed to advance ticketbuyers and will also be reprinted in the playbill.
The verses in Matthew read: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be
likened unto 10 virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet
the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They
that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; But the
wise took oil in their vessels with wicks aflame."
The wise virgins were able to meet the Bridegroom and attend the marriage,
but the foolish virgins were shut out. "Watch therefore," the
passage concludes, "for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein
the Son of man cometh."
In the dramatic expansion of the medieval drama, the foolish virgins
are not only refused entry to the nuptial feast, but are assailed by demons,
who lead them to hell with the words, "Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire."
The Ensemble for Early Music, under the direction of Frederick Renz,
is known internationally for its bravura performances of medieval and Renaissance
music. At its home base in New York City, the ensemble presents annual
sold-out performances in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the Cloisters
of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a frequent visitor to major music
festivals, including Spoleto, Ravinia, Edinburgh and Caramoor.
The Ensemble for Early Music records for the Fone, Musical Heritage
Society, Musicmasters and Nonesuch labels and has performed extensively
for National Public Radio and American Public Radio.
A Louisville Courier Journal review stated, "Early music is popular.
Many of the performing ensembles are quite good, but none approaches the
exacting standards or bravura performance techniques of the Ensemble for
Early Music." The New York Times has described the ensemble's performances
as "stunning . . . ravishing and beautifully performed."
Cambridge Place Apartments is the corporate sponsor of the Ensemble
for Early Music performance through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Tickets for "Sponsus" are $25, $22 and $19. UI students and
senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets
available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger
are half price.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is
toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr/
on the World Wide Web.