By Susan Hill Smith for The Island Eye News
Attend an upcoming performance on Isle of Palms, and you can journey back to the 16th and 17th centuries when the lute was one of the most admired musical instruments across Europe, with fans ranging from commoners to kings.
Kayleen Sanchez, new director of traditional music for Isle of Palms First United Methodist Church, arranged the March 11 concert, which starts at 4 p.m. and will be free and open to the public. Sanchez, who is also on the College of Charleston’s voice faculty, will perform vocals as part of the duo Bedlam with lute player Laudon Schuett. They will be joined by a Kentucky duo who also specialize in Baroque period music – soprano Elizabeth Packard Arnold and lutenist Dieter Hennings.
For “early music nuts,” this kind of concert is a draw and especially because it offers two duos like this together, Sanchez says. For others who aren’t familiar with the lute—a long-lost stringed instrument similar to the guitar but with a uniquely rich sound —attracting interest takes some extra marketing.
Sanchez points out out that the Irish, Scottish and English lute songs that Bedlam performs from the Baroque and Renaissance periods should sound familiar to fans of current-day Celtic music. “We’re classical musicians, but we can fit into this folk sound,” she says. “Usually when people hear us, they like what we do – as long as we can get them in the door.”
She personally fell in love with Baroque music because of its attention to detail and dramatic, character-driven songs. “From one phrase to the next, you can use very different vocal colors.”
Sanchez plans to continue a variety of free performances that she hopes will be a “bridge to the community” for the church. She has already scheduled the College of Charleston’s university choir to appear at IOP First United Methodist at 4 p.m. April 15 to sing a variety of pop, classical and jazz numbers.
The 30-year-old soprano took on her role at the Isle of Palms church in January after moving to the Charleston area last year with her husband, Paul, director of piano studies at College of Charleston. She plays piano and organ, leads the adult choir and the church’s handbell group, and is launching a new children’s choir that will likely make its debut on Palm Sunday. “I think it’s going to grow, and I really enjoy working the kids,” says Sanchez, who is the oldest of seven. “Now is a great time for people to get involved.”