The Musicians in Ordinary Celebrates Shakespeare with Sweet Swan of Avon

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Sweet Swan of Avon: Words and Music – February 13-April 23

“Shakespeare and his contemporaries thought the mind was composed of harmony, or else distempered by disharmony,” says lutenist John Edwards of The Musicians In Ordinary.
Four centuries after his death, The Musicians In Ordinary present melody in music and both harmony and discord in texts, as they celebrate Shakespeare (1564-1616) with three special performances, Saturdays, February 13, March 19 and April 23, 2016, 8 p.m. at the Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Avenue in Yorkville (Bay subway). 
Titled Sweet Swan of Avon, the series features readings from the plays and poems of the writer whom his contemporary Ben Jonson praised as “the Swan of Avon”.  Complementing the words are airs or madrigals “apt for voices or viols” and consort music, along with lute solos.  The concerts feature soprano Hallie Fishel, lutenist John Edwards and MIO’s violin band led by Christopher Verrette. 
Ruby Joy (rubyjoy.netRepublic of Doyle, Stratford plays) will make her MIO debut, reading Shakespearean passages in the original pronunciation.  
Tickets, $30, $20 for students and seniors, are available at the door. More information is available from or, by e-mailing[email protected] or by calling 416-535-9956
The series opens February 13, 8 p.m. with Shakespeare’s Lives of Girls & Women.  Readings from Hamlet, Richard III, Taming of the Shrew and other works will be interspersed with music by Thomas Campion, William Byrd, John Dowland and other composers of the Tudor and Stuart eras.
Shakespeare’s Saints & Sinners, March 19, features readings from such plays as Macbeth, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, along with music by Byrd, Dowland and Thomas East.  (Reader TBA)
On the actual 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, April 23, the series concludes with Shakespeare’s Sorrows.  Seth Lerer, English language and literature scholar and author, will return to Toronto to read excerpts from Pericles, Hamlet, Macbeth and other works.  The Musicians In Ordinary’s strings will play the complete Lachrimae or Seven Tears by John Dowland, as well as airs by Dowland and his contemporaries. 
Deanne Williams (, author of Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood (2014) and co-editor of The Afterlife of Ophelia (both published by Palgrave Macmillan), is special consultant for the series.  She is also an associate professor of English at York University.
John Edwards notes, “Shakespeare has been called ‘one of our first and greatest psychologists.’  Four hundred years after his death, his insights and penned portraits of the inner workings of heroes and villains continue to teach – not only actors who express themselves onstage, but also all of us – how to perform in the hour we spend strutting and fretting upon the stage.”
The Musicians In Ordinary are supported in part by the Spem in Alium Fund of the Toronto Community Foundation.  
Sweet Swan of Avon – First of three programs celebrating Shakespeare
Hallie Fishel, soprano; John Edwards, lute;  violin band led by Christopher Verrette.
Ruby Joy, reader
Saturday, February 13, 2016, 8 p.m. at the Heliconian Hall
Readings from Hamlet, Richard III, Taming of the Shrew and other works.
Music by Thomas Campion, William Byrd, John Dowland and other composers of the Tudor and Stuart eras.

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