1.8.19

Star of the Sea: music from Venice and the Italian Renaissance

Sunday 17 November, 7:30pm
Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford

Booking information: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/mkctw/star-of-the-sea/e-jmxbyb

For this concert, we are joined once again by the instrumentalists I Musici della Contessa - a small ensemble comprising sackbuts, cornett and curtal.

The maritime republic of Venice played a unique role in the music of the Italian Renaissance and early Baroque. From the songs of the gondoliere to the splendour of the sacred works sung in St Mark’s basilica, music was at the heart of the city’s culture.

This programme centres on the mass setting ‘Bell’ Amfitrit Altera’ by Orlando di Lasso, thought to be based on a popular song celebrating Amphitrite, goddess of the sea. It may have been written for the annual Ascension Day ceremony ‘Lo Sposalizio’, in which a wedding ring was thrown into the water to celebrate the symbolic marriage of the city of Venice to the sea.

While Lassus never worked in Venice, many of his works were published there, and his affinity with its music no doubt stemmed from a visit in 1562 by Andrea Gabrieli, founding father of the Venetian school of composers, who with his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli built a Europe-wide reputation for the sheer magnificence of polychoral works written for performance under the gold mosaic domes of St Mark’s. In the style which became known as ‘cori spezzati’, split choirs were stationed around the church singing antiphonally, often with instrumental accompaniment. This theatrical approach to musical sonority paved the way for the development of the Baroque style in the music of Claudio Monteverdi, whose Ave Maris Stella - a characteristically Venetian celebration of the Virgin Mary as ‘star of the sea’ - comes at the culmination of his Vespers of 1610.

In the glorious acoustic of Holy Trinity Long Melford, Cambridge Renaissance Voices recreate this Venetian soundworld with the sackbuts and cornetts of I Musici della Contessa.

31.1.19

Sacred Music from Renaissance Italy, 18 May

Saturday 18 May, 7:30pm
Palestrina, Croce, Lotti and more

St Mary & St Nicholas Church, Wilton

Tickets £13 in advance (£15 on the door)
Book online

In this concert, Cambridge Renaissance Voices (hailed for ‘beautifully controlled’ performances full of ‘understanding and passion’), bring together some of the great choral masterpieces from across the spectrum of the Italian Renaissance.

Italy’s status as ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ was as vital to the history of music as for the visual arts. From the 15th century on, many of Europe’s greatest composers travelled from France, the Netherlands and Spain, to work for aristocratic and religious patrons, among them the powerful Sforza, Gonzaga, Este and Borgia dynasties.

Josquin des Prez worked for much of his life in Milan, Rome and Ferrara; and Victoria (or Vittoria, as he became known) had two prolific decades in Rome. Alongside these musical immigrants, Italy’s own composers – above all Palestrina - were crucial in shaping the development of sacred polyphony. Palestrina’s serenely beautiful ‘Missa Papae Marcelli’, written in honour of the brief reign of Pope Marcellus II, became the definitive Papal Coronation Mass and was credited with having rescued choral music from the threat of being banished altogether from the church at the Council of Trent in 1562-3.

 After Palestrina, the centre of gravity began to shift northwards to Venice, where the ‘stile antico’, still predominant in the music of Giovanni Croce and Andrea Gabrieli, eventually gave way to a more dramatic style in the work of Monteverdi and Antonio Lotti, moving polyphonic choral music into the Baroque idiom, increasingly favouring the theatrical power of dissonance and emotional affect.

2.11.18

Long Melford, 18 November

Sunday 18 November, 7:30pm

Tickets £16 from Theatre Royal Box Office 01284 769505

The Song of Solomon, otherwise known as the Song of Songs, features some of the most beautiful and sensuous poetic language in the Bible.

Celebrated liturgically as an allegory of the relationship between Christ and his bride the Church, the verses themselves are plainly erotic, evoking a luxuriant sexuality in terms of fragrant spices, ripening vines, orchards and gardens richly planted with pomegranates and lilies. This coalescence of spiritual meaning and sensuality gave free rein to Renaissance composers’ powers of musical expression, allowing them to reflect a heavenly beauty in music that is nevertheless richly grounded in a garden of earthly delights.

Cambridge Renaissance Voices explore this repertoire across Renaissance Europe, from Franco-Flemish composers such as Lassus and Clemens non Papa, through the music of Palestrina in Italy, to that of Tomas Luis da Victoria and Francisco Guerrero in Spain.

Flemish-born Orlando Lassus spent time in many different countries but settled in Munich in the service of the Duke of Bavaria. He was prolific and his music influential. He wrote about 60 settings of the mass, generally ‘parody’ masses based on borrowed tunes. In the case of the Osculetur Me mass, however, he used material from his own motet on the text. In the course of the mass, each of the motifs from the motet reappear in various different guises, rather like a theme and variations where the melody is first unvarnished (in the Kyrie) then progressively elaborated (especially in the Creed) before returning to a pure but transformed rendition to close (the Agnus Dei).

The programme also includes Victoria's incredible motet 'Vadam et circuibo'. The opening section of the text translates as follows: "I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him that I languish with love." A piece of astonishing beauty and drama, this work surely derives its special quality from the composer's intensely emotional response to the text.

17.9.18

Waltham Abbey 6 October

We're very excited to be singing a concert in the evocative space of Waltham Abbey, where Thomas Tallis spent some of his formative years in the reign of Henry VIII.

It's a short lunchtime recital, and it's free to attend.

We'll be bringing the sunshine of Portugal and Spain to autumnal Essex. After this, our next concert is back at Long Melford on 18 November.

2.9.18

Long Melford, 18 November 2018

Sunday 18 November, 7:30pm

Tickets £16 from Theatre Royal Box Office 01284 769505

The Song of Solomon, otherwise known as the Song of Songs, features some of the most beautiful and sensuous poetic language in the Bible.

Celebrated liturgically as an allegory of the relationship between Christ and his bride the Church, the verses themselves are plainly erotic, evoking a luxuriant sexuality in terms of fragrant spices, ripening vines, orchards and gardens richly planted with pomegranates and lilies. This coalescence of spiritual meaning and sensuality gave free rein to Renaissance composers’ powers of musical expression, allowing them to reflect a heavenly beauty in music that is nevertheless richly grounded in a garden of earthly delights.

Cambridge Renaissance Voices explore this repertoire across Renaissance Europe, from Franco-Flemish composers such as Lassus and Clemens non Papa, through the music of Palestrina in Italy, to that of Tomas Luis da Victoria and Francisco Guerrero in Spain.