Centuries old melodies for modern times

Step back in history with Musica Antigua de Toledo

There is something romantic about Medieval and post-Medieval times (Black Death and Viking raids notwithstanding). The achievements from the period in science, philosophy, architecture and culture remain influential more than six centuries later. Now, modern day minstrels bring Toledoans authentic Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music center stage.  

Musica Antigua de Toledo is a non-profit organization that works to recreate the styles and sounds of early European music (pre-1800 CE) with as much historical accuracy as possible, using various combinations of voice and period instruments.

The Players

Dr. Alice Neff Peterson started Musica Antigua in 1979 to play during a visit to our area by dignitaries from Toledo, Spain. They group has been playing together ever since. In 45 years of performances, players have come and gone. Currently with the group are Dr. Peterson, who is the coordinator, sings as an alto while also playing a variety of instruments; Sandra Kellogg, who is a mezzo-soprano and also plays the recorder, keyboards, harp and viol; Andrea Kissel, a contralto who plays the recorder, shawm, krummhorns and sordune; Robin Smithberger, who is a vocalist; Donald Jackson, a baritone who plays the recorder, sackbut, krummhorns and viol; Andrew Phillips, who plays the recorder and reeds; and JC Hearn, a baritone. 

Together, Musica Antigua utilizes their backgrounds to recreate early music — anything from Gregorian chants, which started in the 11th and 12th centuries, Medieval music circa the 1400s, Renaissance arrangements in the 1600s, continuing to the Baroque era in the mid-1700s.

The Instruments

Playing authentic period pieces requires the mastery of specialized instruments. The sackbut is a Renaissance and Baroque period form of the trombone. A shawm is a double-reed straight-pipe instrument, with a slender cone-shaped bore inside which produces a loud, piercing, clear tone. Instruments such as the oboe and bassoon have been adapted from the shawm and are used today in orchestras around the world. The krummhorn is a reed instrument that curves at the end to create a more nasally sound, and the sordune is a double reed instrument capable of a wide range of pitches. 

Combined with period string instruments, like the lute and bandora (along with many others), and a variety of vocal ranges, the group takes listeners back in time with their performances. Pieces include: from the Medieval period, work by composers like Guillaume de Machaut and Francesco Landini; Renaissance compositions include works by Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin des Pres and Palestrina; and pieces by famous names from the Baroque era like Claudio Monteverdi, Frescobaldi and Purcell. 

Coming to a Stage Near You

Musica Antigua de Toledo has done as many as three or four shows a year, however they have now scaled back their performances to include one in spring and one in fall. Their next concert is April 30 at 3:30pm at All Saints Lutheran Church. 5445 Heatherdowns Blvd. (west of Reynolds). All are welcome. Free. musicaantiguatoledo.com