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In a dimly lit room in the new Lewis Center for the Arts Music Building, seven musicians wielding a plethora of stringed instruments played, danced, sang, shouted, and engaged the entire audience with European chants and fiddle tunes throughout the performance.

The Norwegian Baroque ensemble’s performance “An Alehouse Session” consisted of “songs and melodies from the pubs and taverns of 17th century England,” according to the Festival of the Arts website.

Immediately upon taking the stage, the group, led by Bjarte Eike, began to showcase their musical prowess by playing bits and pieces of their repertoire for the evening. However, the audience soon came to discover that Barokksolistene was much more than a standard string ensemble. Diverging from the stereotypical solemn nature of orchestral and chamber groups, the seven men drank beer and joked around with the audience members during their casual introductions.

When the group had settled in, Eike abruptly began their first piece, astounding the audience with his technical dexterity. His fellow musicians soon joined in, and the group’s melodies of times past permeated the room.

The repertoire consisted of a multitude of moods, from upbeat and heartracing to melodic and somber. At one point, the group taught an old sailor’s chant to the audience members and played in the background, encouraging the audience to sing as loudly as possible.

Audience members comprised of families and adults from the town. Many were the parents of University students and alumni who still actively support the University by attending its events.

The group’s tagline is “It’s just old pop music.” But their music is much more than that. It invigorates not only the hearing, but also the vision, inspiring a different perspective towards music among  audience members. Their uniquely contemporary performance style injects new life into their baroque music and truly exemplifies the beauty of combining the new and the old.

This event was hosted by Princeton University Concerts and took place in the Lee Music Performance & Rehearsal Room at the new Lewis Center for the Arts Music Building at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5.

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