What You Might Have Heard

On Nov. 28, 29, and 30, the Milwaukee Renaissance Band will perform three concerts throughout Door County for the first time, performing early Christmas music of the Medieval and Renaissance era.

Many of the tunes will be recognizable to audience members says band director and member Laura Kuhlam, but “we are playing on the instruments the songs were written for. It’s what you might have heard back then.”

The band’s performances feature “early carols,” says Kuhlam. “People will know ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ and ‘Coventry Carol.’ Many of the tunes were secular back then, but people added sacred words. For example, ‘Greensleeves’ became ‘What Child is This.’”

Using instruments of the Medieval and Renaissance era – such as shawms, dulcians, cornettos, sackbuts, and recorders – provides a unique musical experience for concertgoers, and performers.

“It’s different,” laughs Kuhlam. “The style of the music is different and the instruments are more…simple. All of us play modern instruments, but knowing the history of our instruments provided us the knowledge to play these.”

Kuhlam, an oboist, plays the shawm. “It’s the predecessor of the oboe,” she explains. “It has no keys, an exposed reed – it’s a little more simplified compared to what we have today.”

On occasion the band will present a pre-concert lecture providing information about their instruments, but “we invite people after our performance to come look at our instruments,” says Kuhlam.

The band, which features a vocalist, will showcase their talents on three distinct occasions for Door County audiences – ensuring an opportunity for all to enjoy the Christmas tunes and instruments of an era past.

The Milwaukee Renaissance Band will perform at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay on Nov. 28 at 7 pm; the cost is $15 per ticket. On Nov. 29, the band will perform at the Sister Bay Moravian Church at 7 pm; a free will offering will take place.

Nov. 30, the band will perform at Bjorklunden in Baileys Harbor following a wine and cheese reception, silent auction and dinner catered by Alexander’s; the event costs $70. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 920.854.7088.

For more information about the Milwaukee Renaissance Band, visit