Música Antigua de Albuquerque presents a concert titled “A Trip to the Zoo,” a musical bestiary, at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 1 at Christ Lutheran Church, 1701 Arroyo Chamiso, Santa Fe and at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 8 at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, 601 Montaño NW, Albuquerque.

Tickets are $20 general public, $15 seniors and $10 students. For tickets and more information call 505-842-9613 or email musicaantigua@comcast.net.

By David Steinberg

Birds, snakes, insects – and even a skunk – are the subjects of songs in Música Antigua de Albuquerque’s March concerts in Santa Fe and Albuquereque.

Thomas Weelkes’ beautiful “The Nightingale” and Jacob Arcadelt’s “Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno” are two of the pieces about birds in the concerts.

“Arcadelt, a 16th century Dutch composer, wrote this very famous and very beautiful piece about a swan. “It’s one of the gems of the Renaissance that’s widely performed and it’s a work we enjoy coming back to,” said Art Sheinberg, a founding member of Musica Antigua.

A piece from 18th century England is “The Bird Fancier’s Delight.” Sheinberg said it supposedly was written to train caged birds to sing various songs. Ruth Helgeson will perform its three melodies solo on recorder.

“Most of the pieces are sung by Música Antigua members in vocal ensembles. I’m the only member who doesn’t sing,” he said.

Dogs and cats are also the subjects of songs in the concert.

The 17th century song by Englishman Richard Browne “We Cats When Assembled at Midnight,” is an example of a catch, or round, sung in pubs, Sheinberg said.  It’s about cats causing trouble, scratching, clawing, fighting and spitting.

Canines aren’t left out. There’s a song by 16th century German composer Ludwig Senfl(cq) called ‘Wohlauf, wohlauf.” “It means arise, arise. The singers make different barking sounds. It’s humorous, as quite a few of the pieces on the program are,” Sheinberg said.

The ensemble plays and sings about the cicada in “Scaldava Il Sol” by 16th century Italian Luca Marenzio. Everything is at peace in the midday sun except the cicada, Sheinberg said in explaining the lyrics.

Even the mythical unicorn is a musical subject. An anonymous 13th century Swiss composed wrote “Unicornis Captivatur,” Latin for the unicorn is taken captive. “It’s religious symbolism. The unicorn represents Christ in the Virgin birth,” he said.

A song about a python has the serpent serving as a metaphor for a lady rejecting the love of a suitor. It was composed by Guillaume de Machaut in 14th century France.

From 15th century Spain comes the song “La zorrilla con el gallo” (The Skunk and the Chicken). Sheinberg said it’s a story about sexual encounters between the two; the skunk is the female.

The concerts are Sunday, March 1 at Christ Lutheran Church in Santa Fe and Sunday, March 8 at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Albuquerque.

Besides Sheinberg and Helgeson, the other ensemble members are Hovey Dean Corbin, Dennis Davies-Wilson, David McGuire and Colleen Sheinberg.