So Old It's New

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"Sibyl" by Francesco Ubertini, c. 1525

Have you ever listened to a piece of VERY early music (think pre-1500) and thought, "that could easily have been written this year"? Sometimes the rhythm, harmony, or general weirdness of a piece of early music reminds us of the most inventive minds of today.

This week the Brothers Balliett set out on a journey, a mini-series that will explore music that's so old it genuinely sounds new. Much of this music is largely improvised or reconstructed from very scant sources, making it in essence brand new music by definition.

The series begins with the birth of civilization and the first written examples of music: the ancient Greeks. We'll hear a set of Ancient Greek tunes played on unfamiliar instruments, a reconstruction of the Sibyl's prophecy (ca. 900, reconstructed by Jordi Savall). This series will also feature brand new works that reference the past conspicuously; this week, in direct dialogue with the Sibyl prophecy, is a work for string quartet by Matthew Barnson.

Get the fire going and a cup of mead, and prepare for a journey to a land so old, it's new.