Dr. Philippa Kelly to Lecture in Berkeley and San Francisco

Pre-concert Talk at Baltimore Concert Performances

Berkeley Public Library Authors Dinner 2012SFEMS is delighted to announce that dramaturg and Shakespeare scholar Dr. Philippa Kelly will give a pre-concert talk at the Berkeley and San Francisco performances by the Baltimore Consort on November 21 and 22. Dr. Kelly’s Berkeley talk will begin at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Avenue (at Garber). Her San Francisco talk will begin at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1111 O’Farrell (at Gough). These lectures are free to ticket holders to the Baltimore Consort’s performances, whose start times are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

“If Music Be The Food of Love, Play On…”

Although Shakespeare himself didn’t seem to sing or play an instrument, music is vital to his dramatic compositions. One of his actors, Philip Henslowe (who also collaborated after the Bard’s death on compiling his Complete Works) lists the following as a diary item:

“Item, 3 trumpets and a drum, and a treble viol, a bass viol, a bandore, a cithern…”

Not only are Shakespeare’s plays interwoven with rhymes and songs (and, indeed, in his day they were also followed by a jig which the actors performed to entertain audiences as they filed out of the theater): his plays are also intensely musical. Musical metaphor portrays the heights of love and the depths of tragic experience. Rhythm and meter frame and express beautiful pools of ambiguity. And musicality is at the core of the way that Shakespeare is performed: the word, “banished,” should not necessarily be pronounced with an acute final stress to rhyme perfectly with “dead,” for example, even where a rhyme-scheme seems to require it.

Dr. Kelly completed a Ph.D. and a postdoc in Shakespeare studies and was a tenured professor in Australia before coming to live in Berkeley in 2002 with her husband, composer Paul Dresher, and her son, Cole. She has published extensively on Shakespeare and Renaissance studies, one of her favorite subjects being the relationship of the glass mirror to changing notions of ‘individuality’ in Renaissance England. Her book, The King and I (Arden Press) is a meditation on Australian identity through the lens of Shakespeare’s King Lear, seeking to illuminate various contemporary social attitudes toward those on the fringes of society. Dr. Kelly is Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, and she has also worked as production dramaturg for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She currently serves as professor at the California Jazz Conservatory, San Francisco State University, and Berkeley OLLI.

Order tickets to the Baltimore Consort’s performances online or phone 510-528-1725.

Read the Baltimore Consort’s notes on the music in Shakespeare’s plays.

Leave a reply
Written by Jonathan Harris
San Francisco Early Music Society