The Music Department kicked off its Teatime Concert Series last Friday with English accents and wild animal sounds, courtesy of Oxford University's Ensemble ISIS. The ensemble, directed by John Traill and pianist Guy Newbury, included Alexandra Buckle (flute), Patrick Gilday (clarinet), Camilla Scarlett and Benjamin Winters (violin), Amy Wein (viola), Gwendolen Martin (cello), and Florence Granatt (double bass).

The program combined traditional English music and modern music composed by Oxford undergraduates, ranging from Elgar and Handel to Newbury himself. The first modern piece, composed by Oxford student Thomas Hyde, started with a cacophony of notes before moving into a jazzier, almost bouncy melody. ISIS then proceeded to a more standard arrangement of Elgar's "Chanson de Matin" and "Chanson de Nuit."

All of the student-composed pieces provided interesting back stories. "Three Shakespearean Portraits" by Sherlaw Johnson put the emotions of Lady Macbeth, Hamlet, and Puck to music. Instead of reading the characters, the audience heard Lady Macbeth lose her reason in a choppy piano piece, Hamlet's indecision in the same strain repeated over and over, and Puck's mischievousness in a scherzo and fugue.

ISIS performed another modern piece, David Braid's "Perpetuo," which Newbury described as "the realization of music perpetuated around us." They followed with traditional pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Handel. Traill said that Handel's "Sonata for Flute and Keyboard" probably sounded different than the composer intended, since "he didn't compose for a Steinway grand."

In another exciting modern piece, Gilday performed a solo clarinet piece composed by Oxford student Alicia Grant. Gilday also provided an entertaining anecdote for the piece: Grant originally wrote the piece for another composer's clarinetist girlfriend to play on her birthday. She, however, had different ideas for their relationship and dumped him a week before her birthday.

The wild animal sounds started after intermission, with William Bland's "Like a Mad Animal." On top of the shrill, rapid notes that came from the instruments, the musicians added their own screams, barks, and grunts to the piece. The ensemble then moved back to more conventional music with Newbury's own "Sonata Movement," which he divided into two movements. The first movement contained "ideas that jar against each other," and the second was "more relaxed." ISIS finished the concert with a viola solo of Benjamin Britten's "Elegy" and a string performance of Henry Purcell's "Chaconne."

The group balanced the traditional music and modern music well. Once they played animal noises or Shakespearean interpretations, they moved into the less experimental music that the Brunswick public and the music students in attendance recognized. Overall, the full crowd in Gibson 101 was pleased with the unique and talented performances of the Ensemble ISIS.

The Music Department continues its concert series with Peter Dickinson, the Bowdoin College Concert Band, and the Cassatt String Quartet in September and October.