By Joe Hadsall
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Fitting in has a different meaning for the members of Wayward Sisters. The string and wind ensemble has to sit carefully, so that cellist Anna Steinhoff doesn’t bang her head on John Lenti’s theorbo, a guitar-style instrument with a four-foot neck.
“I do have to dodge it,” Steinhoff said. “The way we sit, we managed to puzzle-piece it together.”
Lenti, Steinhoff, vionilist Beth Wenstrom and recorder player Anne Timberlake are members of the group that formed in 2009. The ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday as part of Pittsburg State University’s Solo and Chamber Music Series.
Taking its Shakespeare-inspired name to heart, the members stay committed to the ensemble while living scattered lives. More so than other ensembles, the group presents more of the history behind the music.
Steinhoff said that Timberlake does large amounts of research into composers and their music. That research has led to a number of specifically themed programs dealing with the plague, exiles and nomads and one of the group’s favorite mavericks, Matthew Locke.
Locke also has a role in the program the ensemble will play Friday. “The Naughty List: Music by Braggarts, Hotheads, Curmudgeons and Snobs” features the thorny, unpredictable composer.
“He got in a famous fight with a musical theorist about notation,” Steinhoff said. “One argued for the system we have now, the other wanted a moveable clef system.”
The program also includes selections by Tarquinio Merula, William Brade, Nicola Matteis and Dario Castello. The stories behind their lives provide a bit of infusion into the music, Steinhoff said.
While she said that the members might not play the music any differently, it certainly flavors their style.
“We add our passions when we play,” she said. “Because Locke was so different, maybe we use that to flavor our playing.”
The group won a competition in 2011 that led to their debut album being recorded with Naxos.
It has also appeared as Emerging Artists on the Newberry Consort’s 2010-11 concert season, and members have studid at Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University and Juilliard School.
The group features a Baroque-infused sound, highlighted by the recorder and theorbo. Lenti started playing on guitar, but the unique instrument adds a beautifully warm sound, Steinhoff said.
“We love the sound of it,” she said. “It can be soft or powerful. It has low bass notes that we just love, with the warm sound of a lute.”