Critic’s Choice

February 4, 2015 at 8:57 pm

By David Wright

The Newberry Consort

The Newberry Consort, Chicago’s gift to the early-music world, brings a feast for both eye and ear in “Rosa des Rosas: Cantigas de Santa Maria,” their program of 13th-century Spanish songs Friday in Cambridge.

Presented by the Boston Early Music Festival, the Newberrys join forces with the local vocal ensemble Exsultemus to recreate the lively sounds of the court of King Alfonso X “El Sabio” (The Wise) of Castile, where poetry and song in the vernacular flourished.

Alfonso presided over (and probably contributed poems to) the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a lavishly illustrated manuscript collection of over 400 songs in the Galician language that recount the Virgin Mary’s miracles and sing her praise.

On Friday, you can savor the illustrations right along with the songs as the players play, the singers sing, and the manuscript’s vivid images of life in the Middle Ages scroll by onscreen. It’s a chance, for a couple of hours, to immerse your senses in a world of long ago.

The program takes place 8 p.m. Friday at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge. bemf.org; 617-661-1812.

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