Fetch the mead! UTEP’s Early Music Ensemble performs at the Speak Easy Friday, March 31. As prefaced by the bar setting, this won’t be your typical classical music concert.
“We perform from before the Classical period,” said Lindsey Macchiarella a UTEP professor who teaches music appreciation and music history. “Most classical music is after the 18th century. We’re playing music from around the 14th to 18th century.”
This will be the ensemble’s second concert. This Friday’s concert is an attempt to present this style of music in a historically accurate way.
“In the Renaissance, there were no big concert stages. There was no big concert hall. It was sort of a social thing,” Maccariella said. “Most people were expected to have some musical knowledge, and you would sit around with your friends and play music all night.”
The ensemble performs on period instruments. There will be recorders instead of flutes and a troupe of viols. A viol, or viol da gamba, is like a cello, but with a flatter shape. It has six strings and also has no endpin, which means that instead of resting on the floor, players must hold the instrument betwixt their legs. Thus, the instrument got its name, which translates to “leg-viol.”
The Speak Easy is a Downtown bar that opened in January of 2016. The bar is in the basement and has a “Great Gatsby”/Ernest Hemingway-drank-here swing to it. The joint’s ambiance makes it the perfect place for the Early Music Ensemble to change the way El Paso experiences classical music.
“There used to be a different attitude towards listening to music that I think makes a concert more fun,” Macchiarella said. “I want people drinking and talking, and not just silently staring at us.”