A musical fairy tale


It’s the stuff that fairy tales are made of. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl rendezvous in an enchanted place, joining in the musical harmony of voices and lute. Boy and girl decide to meet again, and again, and yet again, until the couple is joining in concert every week. And in the end, as everybody knows, they live happily ever after.

But this is no fairy tale; it is the real tale of two musicians searching for their life’s work and finding it in a harmonious partnership. It is the story of Eric Redlinger and Sylvia Rhyne and an uncommon bond called Asteria; a story in which a Hilo audience will play a supporting role on Wednesday evening at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center.

Asteria’s 7:30 p.m. concert, “Flower of Passion — Thorn of Despair,” will bring out the passion and emotional impact of late medieval vocal and instrumental music and transport the Hilo audience back to the age of chivalry.

The music winds through European feudal systems, remote medieval castles, bloody battlefields and forbidden love, with timeless love songs of wide appeal.

Rhyne still savors the memory of that first meeting with Redlinger and first impromptu rehearsal, in New York’s Central Park twelve years ago. “The sound and the approach felt so right that we knew we had found something special,” she recalled. “Our three voices — the lute’s, Eric’s (a high tenor) and mine (soprano) — all have different timbres, but somehow, they wrap around each other, just as the music does, to create a blend that always arouses attention.”

In October 2004, Asteria burst onto the national early music scene, winning Early Music America’s first Unicorn Prize for Medieval and Renaissance Music with a performance heralded by the New York Times as “intimate and deeply communicative” and “meltingly beautiful.” Based on their busy performing career and the success of their four recordings Rhyne and Redlinger are reaching a wide swath of people.

One of the things that makes Asteria unique is its focus on the words. The artists take the texts they sing so seriously that they have undertaken long trips to French castles to study them. “We spend a tremendous amount of time researching what the words mean, and we know every word,” Rhyne said. They memorize everything in order to deepen their connection with the audience.

While initially the couple wanted to explore other eras of music, their research into medieval music so enveloped them that they ultimately decided to remain in that era — particularly the music of the 15th century.

“The more we studied this time, the more we got involved in the people, the culture, why the people were writing this music,” Rhyne said. “So we have never moved to those other periods. We keep exploring it. There’s something so rich here.”

Tickets ($20 general, $16 senior, $10 student) for the concert by Asteria are available at the Most Irresistible Shop, Music Exchange, the UHH Box Office, and the East Hawaii Cultural Center. Remaining tickets will be available at the door.

For additional information call 935-5831.

 

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