Okay, stop giggling, and say it again.


The sackbut is the predecessor of today’s trombone, and is one of the early Renaissance musical instruments you’ll see and hear in “Singen und Sagen: Music for Hope in a Time of War,” at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman Ave., at 4 p.m. Sunday. (There is another performance in Chicago the night before).

Two early music groups from our area, the Newberry Consort and Bella Voce, are combining for the first time in their roughly 40-year histories to perform works that require more voices and instruments (30-plus) than each organization could provide on its own.

“This is the music that I love,” says Liza Malamut, artistic director for the Newberry, who conceived of the joint performance.

In this case, the music is from Michael Praetorius, a German Renaissance composer who wrote “Singen and Sagen” (“Sing and Say”) in the early 17th century.

The artistic director at Bella Voce, Andrew Lewis, says the goal of early music ensembles is “to make the music sound as much as it did back then. Not in the dry, academic sense. Just beautiful.”

Lewis comes from a musical family, and says “by the time I was 14, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music as a conductor.”

The Newberry Consort. (Elliot Mandel photo)

Malamut is also from a musical background. She took the trombone in high school, “and I loved it.”

That led to a trombone and historical music focus in college, and discovery of the sackbut, which she will play in this weekend’s concerts.

Malamut says that Praetorius was an extremely prolific composer who was very religious and influenced by Martin Luther.

“Music and prayer were inseparable” to such a composer, Malamut explains.

To Lewis, the melding of choir and instrumentation leads to the perfect sound.

Bella Voce means “beautiful voice” in Italian.

The 12 voices in the upcoming performances, Lewis says, produce “a beatiful, incredible clean blend, like the choir is one voice.”

As for the second half of the concert’s title, “Music for Hope in a Time of War,” there are two meanings.

The first looks back to the 1600s, and the devastating Thirty Years’ War, which began just after the Praetorius composition, “Polyhmnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica,” was published.

Writings from individuals during that devastating time will be read as part of the performance.

The second war reference is to today, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Malamut says that the Praetorius music is “more meaningful now than ever,” because its message of hope survived a war 400 years ago, and is still with us during the latest conflict.

“I want people to have this experience where they hear this amazing music and how it survived for hundreds of years, and have them walk out with some hope and optimism for the future, because we really need this right now.”

Besides the voices, the upcoming concerts will include strings, winds, two organs, five trumpets and several other period instruments, including, yes, the sackbut.

Lewis calls it a “huge pallette of sound.”

Ticket information is available online.

It’s not difficult to attend one of the concerts. You just have to get up off of your sackbut.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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