The Early Interval

Twelfth Night concerts still drawing crowds

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The Early Interval will present its annual Twelfth Night concerts Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6, at First Congregational Church in Columbus.

Better than 12 drummers drumming is The Early Interval's annual Twelfth Night concerts.

The central Ohio tradition features the area's resident early music ensemble performing a themed program. This year that theme is "A Flemish Twelfth Night Celebration."

Tickets are $27 for adults, $22 for seniors and $12 for students. Visit earlymusicincolumbus.org.

In the spirit of Twelfth Night, The Early Interval founder Ron Cook was kind enough to offer up a list of "Twelve Things the Audience Might Find Interesting About The Early Interval's Twelfth Night Celebration Tradition."

1) In its Twelfth Night programs, The Early Interval performs the music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and early Baroque periods (roughly covering the years 1150-1700) that was used to celebrate the Twelfth Night after Christmas.

2) The 12th day of Christmas was an important holiday during the years represented by The Early Interval's music, with church services being held to observe the Feast of Epiphany, marking the visit by the Three Kings to the Christ Child, and with secular society enjoying eating, music-making, dancing and the giving of gifts.

3) When I first suggested that Early Music in Columbus begin a tradition of concerts celebrating Twelfth Night, the program director at the time rejected the idea, stating that no one would be interested in attending a concert immediately following the holiday season (as we think of it today, ending on New Year's Day).

This will be The Early Interval's 22nd Twelfth Night celebration, which many have described as "the perfect way to end the holiday season."

The Twelfth Night celebration concept has now been copied by early music series in other cities.

4) Most of The Early Interval's Twelfth Night concerts have had a theme, often covering the music of a single region. The regions represented to date have included Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Flanders, the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and Colonial America.

5) All of the Twelfth Night concerts have been performed at either the Pontifical College Josephinum or First Congregational Church, both places of physical beauty, historical ambience and superb acoustics.

6) There are several audience members who have attended every Twelfth Night program since the series began 22 years ago.

7) The Early Interval has always performed the Twelfth Night concerts in part as a benefit for the Early Music in Columbus concert series, and these concerts are the largest source of earned income to support the entire series.

8) The Early Interval has used approximately 150 different instruments in performing its Twelfth Night concerts, including recorders, crumhorns, violas da gamba, harps, shawms, sackbuts, dulcians, rackett, lutes, vielles, rebecs, early percussion instruments and pipe and tabor.

The two instruments used by The Early Interval that have attracted the most questions and comments from members of the audience are the hurdygurdy and the theorbo.

9) The Early Interval's 22 Twelfth Night concerts have all ended with the same song, the Twelfth Night carol Gloucestershire Wassail, with the audience invited to join in the refrain.

10) The fewest musicians to perform a Twelfth Night program has been five. The largest number has been 12.

11) The Twelfth Night concerts have never been canceled in their entirety, but a few individual concerts have been canceled because of ice, snow and frozen pipes that resulted in a loss of power.

An early audience member gave the concert series this advice: "You know that this is a terrible time of year to hold these Twelfth Night concerts!"

12) Audience members are not asked to bring gold, frankincense or myrrh, and, although there are drummers drumming and pipers piping, there are no swans a-swimming and no partridge in a pear tree.

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