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Here yee, Hear yee come lords and ladies of the Elizabethan Court ! Lise Winne and troupe known as the Spirites Consort has cometh to perform for thee with musical Entertainment! But alas, you must read their formal introduction first!

How did you come up with the name, “The Spirites Consort”?

     “Spirites” is an olde English way of spelling “spirits”. Dowland, Queen Elizabeth’s court composer, used that spelling and we play a lot of Dowland. The word also looks like it fits somewhere between spirits and sprites and I like that.

Which faires do you attend?

      I have performed for years at the Medieval Faire at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany , NY . The other guys (the Spirites) joined me years later. It’s a small intimate faire with great acoustics, a big cavernous room, huge echoing halls and stone staircases. No jousting, of course, but there are quite a few craftspeople, costumers, instrument makers, jugglers, actors, performance groups including some large recorder ensembles, which I haven’t seen so many of at the bigger Renaissance Faires I’ve attended. The faire is more serene and majestic, less rollicking, which is a nice departure. We’ve also been hired for some college Renaissance Faires in the past.

     2003 was the first time we applied to some commercial Renaissance Faires, probably 6 in all. We got some very nice responses, but were told our costumes needed work. So I’ve been focused on getting that together.

     You have to understand that although we enjoy and want to play many more Renfaires, we are not strictly a RenFaire band. I’ve been performing classical concerts at concert halls, folk and original songs at coffeehouses, festivals and art centers, even acoustic pop at various establishments for years (the other Spirites have also been playing out for decades). I always tried to sprinkle my sets with Renaissance songs at every venue, even the pop ones, because they have a very different kind of feeling to them. If I don’t introduce the songs right away as being Renaissance, many people will think it’s this wonderful new inventive style. If you spring “Renaissance” on them too quickly, they sometimes have this preconceived notion that it’s highbrow or a bawdy song and close their minds.

     Anyway, when audiences were coming up to the CD table after the concerts, they were asking if the Renaissance songs were available on any of the recordings. So, the inspiration was to make a Renaissance album that we could take on tour with us to our usual haunts.

     Right now we’re pigeonholed as a Renaissance band probably because the CD is getting the attention now, but we aren’t strictly Renaissance. While we stick to Renaissance at Renfaires, at other venues we play all kinds of things. Music, for us, is about creativity and inventiveness, a unique sound, and good playing; what venue we play is often secondary.

     In fact, I like performing Rensongs at unlikely places; it introduces people to it in small doses, people who wouldn’t be inclined to go to a Renfaire or go to a whole concert of Renaissance music. It gets them interested in the genre without saturating them and hopefully they leave wanting more. You may find some of those people at a faire yet!

     On the other hand, many purists hate us: “Power chords? A double bass? A singer applying a folk style? Pshaw!”

     However, all genres experience shifts, changes and new approaches. It’s as old as music itself.

 How do you dress for the faire?

      In our old costumes. But now we have new costumes! I like the Italian style for both men and women.

 Please give us a brief description of your persona.

      Musicians dressed from the Italian peninsula serenade you in English. We also will play for Queen Elizabeth when she lets us since she commissioned a lot of these songs.

 Is there any performer you would like to see?

      The top players of the 1500s. Barring that, I’d like to see Lisa Lynne, Blackmore’s Night and Owain Phyfe in concert. I got to see Fairport Convention recently which has always been on my list and they had wonderful energy in concert.

 What do you like best about the internet?

      Incredibly, I just got a computer in the house 4 months ago. Since then, I discovered a lot of wonderful sites including “The Mists of Avalon” where we promptly sent in our CD and got on the playlist. I also discovered Renradio. If anyone else knows of any other Renaissance radio shows, please e-mail us and let us know where they are.

 What do you like least about the internet?

      It’s impersonal and it sometimes gives me a headache. I’m more inclined to look at print on paper. 

 What do you like about Renfriends?

         It’s friendly and it’s about friends. It’s about reaching out to others in the Renaissance community which is what we’ve been trying to do for the last year.

 Have you any good or funny anecdotes?

      The first Renfaire that we did, Jeff and Rick came dressed as jazz musicians. I thought somehow they knew about the dress code for a faire, but there they were dressed in black dress pants, crisp white shirts, blazers and black loafers. One of them even wore a bowtie! With me wearing the traditional, it was quite the picture, let me tell you! And enough of a comedy show for the audience that I don’t think anyone noticed the songs.

 Do you have a favorite song?

      My favorite Rensong is still (and has been for many years) “My Thoughts Are Wing’d With Hopes.” I think all of us in the group like that one the most. The lyrics are great poetry and the music has a real Latin flavor to it, even in the most classical versions. If the lyrics are top-shelf and the music superbly written, it’s got the magic for us.