The Westminster Summer Concerts Series concludes with a program entitled “I Got It Bad, and That Ain’t Good: Love Songs by Duke Ellington and Guillaume Machaut on Tuesday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Admission is free.
The performers will be members of the faculty at Westminster Conservatory, the community music school of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts. “Almost from the time man began to leave written records of his thoughts, love has been a central theme,” says baritone Timothy Urban, who is coordinating the performance. The greatest of all 14th century French poet-musicians, Guillaume Machaut, left dozens of poems and songs in which love, especially unrequited love, sets the tone. These songs were the hits of his day and spread all over continental Europe.
Nearly 600 hundred years later in the United States, these exact same themes are found in the music of Duke Ellington, an equally prolific and popular composer. This program juxtaposes some of each composers most popular songs, including I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good, Douce Dame Jolie, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Comment Qu'a Moy, Solitude and Je Vivraie Liement - highlighting their similarities and differences. The improvisational nature of Machaut’s music performed on period instruments such as medieval lute, recorders, organistrum, cornetto and psaltery provide a surprisingly similar sound to the smooth sultriness of jazz guitar, trumpet and flute playing the music of Ellington.