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2019 – 2020 Season Empire's Ebb

From West African kingdoms to clashing kings on a field of gold, from queens both triumphant of wit and vanquished by love, our eleventh New York season explores through myth, music, and history the fragility of empire and the fault lines of conquest.

Programs and artists subject to change. To reserve by phone, call 1 888 718 4253


Tuesday, November 12th 7:30pm

The Bernie Wohl Center

647 Columbus Avenue

In the Beginning

Early Music of Western Africa


Ensemble Longbor Mor

Dawn Padmore, Soprano 

Yacouba Sissoko, Kora 

Olusegun Ajayi, percussion

Kevin Nathaniel Hylton, mbira & percussion

Adedeji Ayansola, talking drum


Is "Early Music" only about Europe?

Thriving for centuries before and surviving four centuries after, persisting in a hostile foreign land long after the first ship bearing human cargo arrived in 1619, the chants and dances of Western Africa pre-date by centuries any music that we currently refer to as "early.” 

Come hear some of the oldest music known to us today – music that survived a harrowing ocean journey, flickering in the shadows of the Land of the Free, pulsing with enduring power through the amplified soundscape of modern American popular song.

Acclaimed Liberian soprano Dawn Padmore and kora master Yacouba Sissoko join Afro Roots Artistic Director, percussion virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Nathaniel in a thrilling performance of traditional Western African music from lands now known to us as Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Our New York season opens with music from the beginning. Don't miss this very special evening, co-presented by our friends at Afro Roots Tuesdays.


Thursday, December 12th


The Players Club

16 Gramercy Park South

Carthage Conquer’d

Dreams of Tunis in the Baroque Imagination


Ensemble Aeneid

Jessica Gould, soprano

Mary Riccardi & Dongmyung Ahn, violins

Christa Patton, recorders & baroque harp

Arash Noori, theorbo

John Mark Rozendaal, baroque cello

Gwendolyn Toth, harpsichord

Fatima Gozlan, ney

Brian Prunka, oud

The capital of Tunisia was once the legendary city of Carthage.


Its Queen Dido, loved then abandoned by Aeneas on his mission to found Rome, inspired countless musical masterworks from the baroque era to Berlioz.

This concert alternates baroque cantatas and arias dedicated to the Carthaginian Queen with the Arabic form of improvisation known as Taksim, as two ensembles – one baroque and the other North African, share a stage, offering a new hearing of Dido the misused monarch and the site of Northern Africa as both exploited resource and object of fantasy in the Western European mythscape.

Music of Cavalli, Couperin, DeVisée, Legrenzi, Montéclair, and Purcell, in alternation with traditional Taksim improvisations close our fall season, in this original program, previously presented by the Sorbonne and NYU Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy

Click here to read the program notes.


Saturday, January 18th


NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò

24 West 12th Street

À Cour

Ayres de Cour des Grands Maîtres de la Tragédie Lyrique Française

Lila Hajosi


Giovanni Bellini

French 11-course lute

Mired in decadence and shrouded in subtlety, French court culture found no better expression than the intimate, sensual, and seductively nuanced Air de Cour.

Yet, at the apex of the Ancien Régime, Bon –Goût tangles with Sprezzatura, as a Mazarin Italian import and Tuscan peasant’s son becomes “Surintendant de la Musique du Roi.” The monumental Tragédie Lyrique and the Comédie-Ballet of Jean Baptiste Lully, né Giovanni Battista Lulli, gradually eclipse the Air de Cour, as a glittering age hungry for spectacle swiftly hurdles towards its end.Join us on a midwinter’s evening, as the French-Florentine duo of  mezzo-soprano Lila Hajosi and lutenist Giovanni Bellini share a program of exquisite jewels from the rise of the Roi Soleil in the elegant and intimate Ridotto of the townhouse of NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.

Works of Lully, Charpentier, Gallot le Vieux, Lambert, and Mouton. and excerpts from the Divertissement de Chambord, Ballet Royal de Flore, Ballet de Versailles.

Sunday, March 1st 7:30pm

The Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street


Join us for a pre-concert talk with Dr. Eugenio Refini (New York University) scholar of 17th-century oratorio, and ensemble members performing in Ester, Liberatrice del Popolo Ebreo by Alessandro Stradella (1639 -1682)

Admission is free. Please reserve seats by email.


Thursday, March 5th 8:00pm

The Brotherhood Synagogue

28 Gramercy Park South

Ester, Liberatrice del popolo ebreo

Alessandro Stradella (1639 – 1682)

Jessica Gould, Sarah Pillow, José Lemos, Ian Pomerantz, Paul An, Matthew Curran, Martha Sullivan, Olivia Greene

Members and Guests of The Stradella Consort,

Estevan Velardi Director

The Old Testament story of a blustering genocidal despot and the canny queen who resists and brings him down finds voice in one of the most innovative works of the violent, volatile, and tragically short-lived genius Alessandro Stradella. 


Please join us for this groundbreaking masterwork by “the Caravaggio of Music" in a return of last year’s critically praised production celebrating the story of a minority’s triumph over religious persecution.

Click here to read the program notes.

This event is co-produced by NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò  and the American Society for Jewish Music, and presented in partnership with Centro Primo Levi.


Friday, April 17th 8:00pm


The Kosciusko Foundation

15 East 65th Street

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Michal Gondko and Nigel North, Renaissance Lutes

The 1520 summit between Henry VIII of England and François I of France, known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, celebrated a brief glimmer of peace in the historically bellicose Anglo-French relationship. Nigel North and Michal Gondko honor this spirit of accord with an international program of Renaissance lute duets and solos, exalting the lute’s frequent role as an instrument of international diplomacy and courtly delight. Works of Francesco da Milano, Albert de Rippe, Pierre Phalèse, John Johnson, John Dowland, and others.

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