Early Music Series

Please visit our new website for the most updated information.

The Early Music Series has been held at the Byron Colby Barn since 2001, featuring highly acclaimed musicians performing music from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. The Byron Colby Barn’s acoustics resemble the historical settings for which this music was composed, making this a wonderful setting for these performances. “Like” the Early Music Series on Facebook for photos and video clips, and support live professional music performances in Lake County.


EARLY MUSIC SERIES 2_editedSeason tickets for all 6 performances in the Early Music Series can be purchased online prior to the first concert of the season for only $90 per person. Click here to purchase season tickets. Purchasing a season ticket saves $30 off the regular admission – the equivalent of one and a half free performances. Purchase a season ticket for yourself and a friend, and enjoy an entire season of beautiful live music together.

Individual concert tickets are $20 per person, and are available at the door only. Payment is accepted via cash or check only, and exact change is appreciated. We regret that we are unable to accept credit card payment for individual concert tickets, or reserve individual concert tickets in advance.

To inspire early appreciation for the arts, children younger than 16 are admitted free to Early Music Series performances. The Barn does not have a “cry room” to accommodate young children who are not able to enjoy the performance quietly, and we appreciate your consideration for other patrons.


Performances in the 16th season of the Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn include:

Support professional music in Lake County by telling others about the Early Music Series!

Artistic Director


Joel Spears is an active lutenist and guitarist based in the Chicago area.

He has performed both as a soloist and with ensembles of varying sizes, as a founding member of the ensemble Black Tulip, and including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, New Comma Baroque, Seraphic Fire, Ars Antigua, Bella Voce, Music of the Baroque, The Chicago Early Music Consort, Scholars of Cambrai, and Heroic Bard. In addition to playing for numerous live radio broadcasts on 98.7-WFMT, he has appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, the Bach Week in Evanston Festival, and the Handel Week Festival.

Joel recently collaborated with composer Scott Gibbons on his soundtrack for the multimedia event, “Les Noces de Louis XIV” held at Versailles. As a lecturer and performer, he as appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Madison Early Music Festival, and as Guest Artist and Lecturer at Grand Valley State University. Joel is currently Lute Instructor at the Music Institute of Chicago, and Artistic Director of The Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake, Illinois. He is also proud to be the first theorbo teacher in the nation at the high school level at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL.

Professional musicians – to be considered for future performances in the Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn, please contact the Artistic Director Joel Spears at jtspears(at)comcast.net.

Performance Policies

EARLY MUSIC SERIES_editedPerformance seating is non-reserved. Please arrive promptly to allow plenty of time to find a seat and enjoy the ambiance of the Byron Colby Barn. For your comfort, a limited number of chair pads are provided.

The main entrance of the Barn is near the stage, and late arrivals are disruptive to the performance. Please arrive promptly. If early departure is necessary, please exit the door closest to the kitchen to minimize disruption to the performers and fellow audience members.

Refreshments are not available for purchase, but audience members are welcome to bring a bottle of wine to share with friends. The Byron Colby Barn is part of the Prairie Crossing conservation community, and we ask that you place your discarded bottles in the recycling bin.

No photography, videography, or sound recording is allowed during performances.

Concert Reviews & Press

Byron Colby Barn offers early music holiday concert” – by Sheryl DeVore, Lake County News-Sun

Medieval music called ‘an adventure‘” – by Sheryl DeVore, Lake County News-Sun

“It has been wonderful to have such amazing early music concerts in northern Illinois. The programs have not only been incredible music-wise, but also educationally. Musicians often enjoy talking about their instruments, which are originals or copies from those played during the Renaissance or Baroque eras. All-in-all it has been quite an experience to listen to the concerts at the Barn, which hopefully will go on for many years to come.” Robin Mendel-Rosenberg

“This concert series brings in to the northern suburbs performers not only from the local area, but also from around the U.S, Canada, and Europe. It provides exposure to a quality and genre of live chamber music that is otherwise not accessible without making a trip into downtown Chicago, or Evanston. The variety is wonderful, and the musical level of the performances is consistently high from season to season. Those of us who are devotés of music written before 1800 support Early Music at the Byron Colby Barn by attending every concert we possibly can.” Daniel Heiman

“Spending a late Sunday afternoon listening to early music at the Byron Colby Barn is a unique experience. The musicians are first-rate and the acoustic are outstanding. It’s a special treat to hear musicians of this caliber perform in such a warm and intimate setting.” Jim Cubit

“The Early Music series is a musical feast …. For an extremely reasonable price, one gets to hear the best early music musicians and ensembles. The acoustics are wonderful, and the musicians typically spend a good deal of time educating the audience about their instruments, choice of selections and the provenance of the music. This exquisite music comes from an era before humans lived drowned in noise and light. Played with human breath and human touch, on instruments of wood and gut, in an intimate space in a beautifully-restored old wooden barn lit by candlelight, on winter evenings as the sun sets over the prairie, the Early Music Series is a very special and rare experience.” Joan Gottschall


Video Clips

Visit the Early Music Series YouTube channel to experience the beauty of the Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn, then join us at an upcoming performance. No photography, videography, or sound recording is allowed during performances but relax and enjoy these exquisite video clips from past performances.

The Early Music Series YouTube channel allows you to revisit your favorite performances, preview the professionalism and intimacy that define the Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn, and share the performance experience with your friends.