“The Very Last Castle” hosted by the musical group Bloomington

Bloomington-based musical group The Forgotten Clefs hosted a musical event on Tuesday with children’s storybook “The Very Last Castle”. The pre-recorded performance was released by the Monroe County Public Library at 4:30 p.m., followed by a live question-and-answer session with members of the ensemble.

The Forgotten Clefs is a professional non-profit group of five IU Jacobs School of Music alumni: Chris Armijo, Keith Collins, Adam Dillon, Kelsey Schilling and Sarah Schilling. The group mainly plays Renaissance music using instruments from this era.

“We each met at different school concerts and we all shared this interest in Renaissance music,” said Kelsey Schilling.

This performance featured several instruments, including a family of recorders, the dulcimer, cromhorn, harp, shawm and sackbute. General manager Sarah Schilling said the ensemble played around 20 instruments.

Vicki King, a retired pianist who sits on the Forgotten Clefs board of directors, recounted “The Very Last Castle”. The story is about a five-year-old girl named Ibb who visits an uncrowded castle that frightens the villagers.

“It’s a book about making friends and dealing with fears and realizing that there is nothing to fear,” King said.

Ibb was performed by Destiny Walton, a sophomore dance student. Walton choreographed his own dance for the show.

After each page King read, the band played a song that matched the tone of the scene, while Walton danced Ibb’s actions. Her dance was placed in front of the bottom of the page illustration.

The performance was part of the group’s annual educational outreach program, Shawms and Stories. Thanks to a grant from the City of Bloomington Arts Commission, King said they visit six to eight elementary schools each year to host a music event like this. This year’s show will be presented in local schools in addition to the show presented by the library.

The performance was edited by Christopher Armijo. The video began with the performers introducing themselves and their instruments.

“When the play is performed you hear my voice read,” King said. “Chris used background artwork from the book itself and then you see Destiny dancing to that music. It is a combination of dance, digital photography and music.

King said the group started planning the general details of the event in March 2020 and started selecting and planning the performance in November. The performance was recorded in early March, with the musicians recording their music first, King reading the story and Walton dancing.

Armijo invited viewers to move on to the music they heard. The participants were of all ages. Children watch with their parents and the elderly enjoy music. A child followed Walton’s dances.

An audience member asked, “How did you choose the story?” Armijo said the group went to the library and combed through the children’s section for the perfect book.

“We chose this book because the illustrations were so good,” Armijo said. “We liked the history and the castle matched our type of music. We also chose it because the main character is a young black girl and we wanted to present more African American stories.

One child replied, “Oh, that’s cool! “

The event is available on the group’s website and on YouTube until April 10.

William N. Fernandez