The Early Music Series

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. Click here to see all upcoming events at the Byron Colby Barn and Prairie Crossing Farm.

“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

Early Music Series Details


Upcoming 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!


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.

Season 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. 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.

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

Performance Policies

Performance 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.

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.