Aeolus Recorder Konsort
of the Aeolus Recorder Konsort
When Louise Rollefson moved from South Bend, Indiana to Little Rock,
Arkansas in 1975,
the Friday Morning Coffee Consort had a farewell party at which they gave her
copies of a Purcell collection for recorder ensemble and charged her to start a
recorder group in
her new community. Louise had been with the South Bend consort for 5 ½ years.
It was composed of women who gathered in their homes to share coffee, home-baked
goods, fellowship and the joy of making music. From time to time, the consort
was invited to play in schools, in churches and for dinners of various
organizations, but its major purpose was to enjoy each other’s company and to
enjoy playing music together.
Louise arrived in Little Rock, she met Shelley Wold, who invited her to church.
There, she told new acquaintances about recorders, and many were interested.
After Louise invited them to her house and taught them to play recorder, the
Musica Antiqua Recorder Consort was born. It met in the afternoons rather than
the mornings, but its main purpose was to enjoy each other’s company and to
make music together. Members of
the Musica Antiqua in 1976 included Anna Carolyn Bradley, Sharon Heidt, Linda Pitts, Wilma Reed,
Fletcher, Maria Sylvester, Shelley Wold, Ann Coleman, Carolyn York, and Louise
Rollefson. A Little Rock Chapter of the American Recorder Society existed
from November 1, 1977 to August 1, 1978.
In the next 5
years, the consort grew and gave programs for nursing homes, churches, schools,
and for various community organizations. During that time, Louise was invited to play with the consort class at the University of
Arkansas at Little Rock. This class was under the direction of Professor
MaryBelle J. Nissly, retired from her post as Director of the first
Women of the Air Force Band.
In 1980, Louise and her family left Little Rock because her husband was invited
back to South Bend to be a visiting professor for 14 months. MaryBelle Nissly was
asked to direct the Musica Antiqua Recorder Consort that year.
On May 6, 1978, an Arkansas Early Music
Festival was held at UALR. MaryBelle J. Nissly was the coordinator,
with the organizing committee consisting of Carolyn York and Louise
Rollefson. The faculty were Richard Arnest on recorders and flutes, John
Muratore on guitar and lute, and Barbara Jackson on viols. About 60 people
from around Arkansas attended.
August 1, 1981, the Aeolus Recorder Konsort was organized as a chapter of the American
Recorder Society. On August 20, 1982,
the Konsort was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
At that time, the Konsort board of directors were MaryBelle J. Nissly,
president, Eugene A. Showalter, vice-president, Laura Lafferty, McKendre E.
McNabb, and Joseph Gunn. Members of the Konsort in 2002, who were active
in 1982, are shown in the picture of the founders.
nucleus of the Konsort thus included players from the Musica Antiqua
group, members of Mary Belle J., Nissly's
class at UALR, and other local musicians.
Membership in the
Konsort has been composed of players from all walks of life: teachers,
librarians, housewives, nurses, guitarists, choral directors, secretaries,
professors, and doctors, and other professionals.
is the case in many other smaller ARS chapters, some current members of the
Konsort have done double duty serving as officers. Over the years, Marjorie
McNutt and Louise Rollefson have each served as both president and
vice-president. Also, Bob Cogburn, Linda Murphey, MaryBelle Nissly, Laurine
Williams and Carol Woolly have served as president. André
Rollefson has served as vice-president. Nancy
Cloninger and Evelyn Tarbell, both have held the secretary’s position, and
former ARS board member Shelley Wold, has been the much-valued treasurer for
directors have included, Jorg F. Voss, MaryBelle J. Nissly, Laurine Williams,
Louise Rollefson, Dr. Ray Moore from UALR and Elizabeth Plowman. Many members
have participated in national workshops and share their experience with the
Konsort. Scholarships are offered to participants from the local organization.
The MaryBelle J. Nissly scholarship fund was created to honor Major
her contributions to the Aeolus Recorder Konsort.
outreach by the Konsort has been a major project of its members. Fall rehearsals
have been dedicated to preparation for the annual December Madrigal Dinners with
the Concert Choir from the University of Central Arkansas. This is a beautiful
candle light event featuring 15th century costumes, an award winning a cappella
choir and a boar's head feast served by aspiring members of the University
choir. The Konsort plays during the seating of the guests, and during the dinner
to entertain the paying public. The program consists of 15th to 18th
century dances and Christmas carols. In the year 2001, the Konsort participated
in this event for the 22nd time.
Konsort plays on a regular basis at nursing homes, retirement homes, state
parks, libraries, the Arkansas Art Center, the Decorative Art Museum, Museum of
Discovery, schools, the Wildwood Festival, and churches.
It also participated with the Women's Air Force Band, September 1999, in
a memorial to MaryBelle J. Nissly. More recent performances have included a
Renaissance festival held in October, for which the Konsort will play again for
the fifth year (2002), and the Twelfth Night Ball and Revels night festivities
for the Country Dance Society and the Arkansas Scottish Country Dance Society,
which is an annual event that began in 1983.
the past year, members of the Konsort performed “Peter and the Wolf” at
three elementary schools. The Konsort also includes other more contemporary
works in its performances, such as "South American Dances" arranged by
Herbert von Schneider, Carolyn Peskin’s “Elegy” (an ARS Members’ Library
edition), and "Indian Songs" arranged by Gerald Moore, in addition to
the dance literature from the 14th - 19th century.
year begins with an organizational meeting in August, traditionally a potluck in
the home of one of the chapter members. Rehearsal dates are usually set for two
Sundays each month.
so many performances by the Konsort, in 1998 the Konsort went to a uniform look
with tapestry vests worn over black. This gives a special look to the Konsort
for easy identification by the public. In
addition to recorder players, string players are made welcome in the music
making of the Aeolus Recorder Konsort.
there are two ARS
chapters, the first, Aeolus Recorder Konsort, affiliated with ARS briefly in
1977 and then finally in 1981, and the second, Bella Vista Recorder Consort,
formed about ten years later. When
we learned that there was an active ARS chapter at Bella Vista in Northwest
Arkansas and that some of our members were acquainted with their members, we
arranged a joint meeting at a place about half way between the two chapters so
travel time would be approximately two hours. The Wiederkehr Winery in Altus
graciously consented to let us play in the large party room adjacent to the wine
a Saturday, June 19, 1999, twenty members from the two chapters came together,
some accompanied by family members. Each
chapter played several prepared pieces and then joined to play as a single
group. Besides recorders, guitar
and sackbut were used in some pieces. In between the morning and afternoon
playing sessions, members enjoyed lunch at the winery's Alpine-style restaurant.
Recorder Konsort performed at the Highland
Valley Renaissance Faire for the fifth consecutive year. The period
Faire and Marketplace took place in Little Rock, Arkansas 72211, at Highland
Valley United Methodist Church, 15524 Chenal Valley Parkway on Saturday,
October 12, 2002.