German a cappella quintet's Cornell performance to range from ballads to The Beatles

MOUNT VERNON — Songs from the Renaissance period, ballads, opera parodies, folk songs, The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” and even Randy Newman’s “Short People” are on the menu when the German a cappella quintet Ensemble Amarcord presents its concert “Insalata a cappella” on Monday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. in King Chapel on the Cornell College campus.

Admission is $8 at the door. This is the third concert in Cornell’s 2001-02 Music Mondays series.

Since its founding in 1992 by former members of the St. Thomas Boys Choir from Leipzig, Germany, Ensemble Amarcord has emerged to join the ranks of continental Europe’s finest male a cappella performers. The current group of Wolfram Lattke (tenor), Dietrich Barth (tenor), Frank Ozimek (baritone), Daniel Knauft (bass) and Holger Krause (bass) has been together since 1995.

The concert title is from the group’s CD, “Insalata a cappella,” first released in 1997 and re-released last year. “This a cappella salad served up by Leipzig’s Amarcord is superb. Medieval, Jewish, witty and anonymous songs; ballads, opera parodies, catches, madrigals, chansons, folk songs, even spirituals — all in all a genuine ‘Insalata a cappella.’ … The vocal ensemble masters a range of genres and languages and easily fills the room with voices that carry a long way,” wrote a reviewer in the Leipziger Volkszeitung.

The concert pieces are self-described “tasty parodies, dreamy but also amusing works from the most varied epochs and branches of musical history.” The concert opens with several works from the Renaissance period and closes with a parody of an opera scene, “Insalata Italiana.” Tunes in between include love songs, “In This Heart” by Irish singer and songwriter Sinead O’Connor and “Juramento,” Cuban composer Miguel Matamoros’ tale about a young lover’s vow of faith, with a bolero rhythm; an arrangement of “Can’t Buy Me Love” that sounds like a madrigal from 1600 London; the spiritual “Dry Bones”; and Newman’s “Short People,” lamenting the vertically challenged.

Ensemble Amarcord has won the Grand Prix Choir Competition in Spain, the International Mendelssohn Competition, the German Music Competition, the International Choir Competition in Finland and the first Choir Olympiad in Austria. The ensemble’s other CDs have showcased music for Advent and Christmas, from Gregorian chant to gospel from Germany (“In adventu Domini”), and spiritual works of various centuries (“Hear the Voice”).

Cornell’s final Music Mondays concert of the season features the Chicago Brass Quintet on April 15.