Ensemble Galilei

November 08, 2000

Ensemble Galilei

By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

The group Ensemble Galilei was founded in 1990, the year the Hubble Space Telescope was launched. Its name pays tribute to the astronomer Galileo Galilei and his father, Vincenzo Galilei, who was determined to reinvent the music of the 1500s. The group will perform Saturday night at Kepler Theater as part of Mountain Green Concerts.

If you go:

Ensemble Galilei, a Mountain Green concert

Saturday, Nov. 11, doors open at 7:30 p.m., concert starts at 8 p.m.

Kepler Theater

Hagerstown Community College


Tickets cost $15 for adults, $5 for those younger than 18; free for HCC students and staff. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Washington County Arts Council Gallery, 41 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, or at the door the night of the concert at 7 p.m.

For information, call 301-791-3132.

When the members of Ensemble Galilei make music, the differences in their tastes and lifestyles are brushed aside.


Some are athletic, others aren't. Some like rock 'n' roll, others like classical music. Some like to stay up late, others like to greet the dawn.


"We love to go out and laugh and eat," said Carolyn Anderson Surrick, the only remaining original member in the six-person group.

And they love to play music together.

"We really want to be committed to the making of music," said Surrick in an interview from Annapolis.

Ensemble Galilei will share its mix of Celtic tunes and music generated before 1750 with audiences at the Mountain Green concert Saturday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. The performance will feature some works from the group's fifth album, "Come Gentle Night," which was released at the beginning of this year. The sixth, "From the Isles to the Courts," is due out in January, Surrick said.

Using Celtic harp, fiddles, oboe, recorders, pennywhistles, percussion, Scottish small- pipes and a viola da gamba, the group performs a range of styles, including Baroque interpretations of 18th-century Irish airs, reels and jigs. Some of the tunes are improvised, some are originals written by the ensemble's musicians and some are written translations of oral traditions.

"Musically, it's always been a democracy," said Surrick, who handles the group's business matters. "The musicians in this group are so strong," and range in age from 28 to 50-something.

Other group members are Sue Richards on Celtic harp; Liz Knowles on fiddle; Sarah Weiner on oboe, recorders and pennywhistle; and Debbie Nuse on Scottish small-pipes and fiddle. Surrick plays viola da gamba, which resembles the cello and is sometimes called "the violin of the leg" because it is held between the legs.

The group's percussionist, Jan Hagiwara, retired from the group this summer. Taking her place is Sean O'Hare.

A man in the group? Only temporary, Surrick said.

The original ensemble was coed, but about six years ago, a Christmas concert featuring an all-woman combination was a hit.

"The response was kind of overwhelming," Surrick said.

The membership of the ensemble has changed over the years, but each combination seems like the best, Surrick said.

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