Musical groups abound at Colorado College, but not everyone has heard of the College’s Collegium Musicum. The Collegium Musicum is a medieval music group directed by CC music professor Nancy Ekberg Tynan, and its members include current professors, students, alumni, and occasional musical guests.
On April 29, the Collegium Musicum played their spring concert for a nearly full house in Packard Hall of Music and Art. The concert focused on songs about love, in all its forms, and drew on music from many different historical periods and regions.
The CC Collegium Musicum is an early music ensemble of mixed instruments that plays music spanning six centuries, from medieval, renaissance, and early Baroque periods. It was started informally by Michael Grace in 1969, and Ekberg Tynan stepped in as director after first joining as a player in the early 1980s.
Early music from the medieval period includes Gregorian chants and sacred pieces, and it is characterized by beautiful haunting drones or long-sustained notes underneath the melodies. The Renaissance music that the group plays covers more pious and profane pieces, and allows more parts for singers and players together.
Everyone in the group has a different story about how they joined. “After I transferred to CC my sophomore year, I was looking for groups to join at the activities fair and some interesting instruments at the back of the room caught my eye,” Rowan Wilson ’18 explained. “Although I had only ever played flute, Nancy convinced me to join and learn recorder.”
This past weekend’s concert was special and bittersweet for the group, as it was their last concert with graduating seniors Rowan Wilson ‘18 and Mary Nguyen ’18, as well as retiring organist, Frank Shelton. Joining them were Cinea Jenkins ‘19 on the cello, Olivia Stenholm ’19 playing violin, Neil Hesse on guitar, Emma Carlson ‘19 as a vocalist, Dan Fosha, also a vocalist, Andrew Friedrichs as a guest trombonist, and Janet Johnson as a guest vocalist. While the group generally has a sackbut player, a type of trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, she was unfortunately unable to attend.
In addition to many eras, the musical arrangements spanned many countries, from England, France, and Germany, to Italy and the Netherlands. After having guest musicians and world-famous recorder players, the Flanders Quartet, visit earlier this year, the Collegium Musicum incorporated many of the more challenging songs that the Flanders Quartet had helped them with. “I appreciated how passionate Nancy and other group members were about medieval music, and I especially enjoyed recognizing poems and songs, like Robert Frost’s ‘The Pasture’,” said audience member Lila Schmitz ’18.
A sentiment that many of the Collegium Musicum members seem to share, and something that Wilson noted, is a sense of gratitude to the Collegium Musicum for bringing together a group of people from all walks of life with different levels of musical experience to play in a fairly unique music group. “I think it’s important to have a Collegium Musicum ensemble because so often students have not experienced early music before college,” Eckberg Tynan noted.
As to benefits of being part of a group, “Our collegium group is a very tight knit ensemble and I feel it’s important to create a close community where everyone cares about each other and helps whenever needed,” said Ekberg.
The group is losing a few members this year, so the Collegium Musicum will be looking for new members to join. Tynan emphasizes that she encourages people of all different musical backgrounds and to consider.