Monteverdi Madrigals

Monteverdi Madrigals:
 Songs of Love and War

Pacific MusicWorks (USA) 
directed by Stephen Stubbs (Seattle)
Saturday, 8 November, 8 pm  Pre-concert talk 7:10 pm Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora (at Quadra)

Catherine Webster soprano, Danielle Reuter-Harrah mezzo
Reginald Mobley countertenor, Ross Hauck and Aaron Sheehan tenors, Douglas Williams bass
Tekla Cunningham and Linda Melsted violinists, Elisabeth Reed baroque cello
Maxine Eilander baroque harp and harpist

In Claudio Monteverdi’s extraordinarily long composing career, he led the way for the entire musical world from the Renaissance to the Baroque—from the a cappella madrigal to the fully-realized “madrigali concertanti” (replete with continuo accompaniment and obbligato strings) and from the early court opera to the world’s first public operas in Venice. He published his eighth book of “madrigals” (Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi…libro ottavo, Venice, 1638) when he was seventy-one years old, nineteen years after the seventh was printed.

The eighth and last book of madrigals holds a place of highest significance for both its content and its extensive preface. The latter is a kind of manifesto not only of his personal philosophy of composition but for the aesthetic goals of modern music in his time.

Monteverdi’s expressed aim was for music to present the entire range of man’s passions. He had come to believe that there was a particular element heretofore missing from the expressive range of music, and he was determined to supply it. Earlier composers, he believed, had realized only two of man’s three major passions: the soft and the moderate. A third passion, agitation, was too important to be overlooked and he now intended to rectify the omission. Love songs were of course nothing new, but setting them next to the stirring rhythms of his newly invented depiction of war in music brings novel and dramatic contrasts to this programme.

Focused primarily on theatrical and concert performances of baroque and classical music, Pacific MusicWorks is an institute-in-residence at the University of Washington’s School of Music. Renowned lutenist and artistic director Stephen Stubbs brings a strong group of singers and musicians back to the stage of Alix Goolden Hall in this mostly-Monteverdi programme.

Hor che’l ciel, e la terra  Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Madrigals of War and Love, Eighth Book, 1638
Chiome d’oro Monteverdi, Seventh Book of Madrigals, 1619
Gira il nemico Monteverdi, Eighth Book of Madrigals
Ego flos campi Monteverdi, Second Collection of Sacred Songs, 1624
Sonata terza Dario Castello, Sonate Concertate in Stil Moderno, Libro II (Venice, 1629)
Et e pur dunque vero Monteverdi, Scherzi musicali, 1632
Augellin Monteverdi, Seventh Book of Madrigals
Lamento della Ninfa Monteverdi, Eighth Book of Madrigals
Sonata Undecima Dario Castello (c.1590-c.1658), Concerto Sonatas in the Modern Style, Book II, 1629
Ogni amante è guerrier Monteverdi, Eighth Book of Madrigals
L’eroica à 3 Andrea Falconieri (1585/6-1656) First Book of Canzone, Symphonies, Fantasies, 1650
Altri canti di Marte Monteverdi, Eighth Book of Madrigals

Dowland in Dublin

Dowland in Dublin: An evening of Lute Songs in an Irish pub!

La Nef (Montreal)
Michael Slattery, tenor (USA)
Saturday, 4 October, 8 pm Pre-concert talk 7:10 pm Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora (at Quadra)

“Dowland, as it turns out, sounds great when suited up, as here he is, in Celtic attire … They achieve a seamless, hand-in-glove result, and while the semper dolens qualities that define Dowland are evident, there’s a new and mitigating sweetness brought to bear. Slattery’s voice is perfectly suited to Dowland.” CBC Music

La Nef has fancifully placed the British composer John Dowland (1563-1626) into a modern Celtic setting by stripping away much of its complexity and letting the beauty of the underlying melodies shine through. Dowland’s usually plaintive music, rooted in the stately pavane and the galliard, has been rearranged by the musicians as if the ensemble were setting out to play an evening’s gig in an Irish pub. The singer is American tenor Michael Slattery, whose high, sweet voice perfectly matches the mood of the music and the Elizabethan instruments brought along by La Nef.

Celebrated during his life for his lute performance and compositions, Dowland is known today mainly for his songs and for the melancholy mood which dominates his musical output. In his settings and choice of titles, however, Dowland reveals another side. On the one hand, he is the man of melancholy, the man who wrote so many weepy works: Lachrimae, Flow my tears, I saw my Lady weep, Go Crystal tears. On the other hand, he is a man of lightness, wit, and satire: My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe, Mistress Winter’s Jump, Mrs. White’s Thing. For this concert, La Nef has chosen to focus on Dowland’s light-hearted side while including some of his more melancholy hits.

The greatest composer of secular music of his age, Dowland wrote and set several songs in praise of his monarch, Elizabeth I. Nevertheless, he was unsuccesssful in obtaining a post in her court. Elizabeth’s tastes in music–she was a composer in her own right and a talented keyboardist–ran towards the religious and ceremonial and her courtly preferences ran to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. So the virtuoso luthenist Dowland travelled Europe, working for a time in the court of Denmark and winning fame as the composer of the greatest international hit of its day, the pavane Lachrimae, which he turned into the song Flow my tears. At last, in 1612, he was engaged as a lutenist in the court of James I, when his compositional career essentially came to an end.

La Nef is a company dedicated to the creation and production of early and contemporary music. It hires musicians and artists in all disciplines according to the needs of its productions. La Nef produces concerts and recitals of early and traditional music that are based on historical and literary themes. In 2001, La Nef broadened its field of action by launching a sector dedicated to contemporary music and to the creation, research, and development of new forms. The company alternates projects that are essentially musical with theatrical projects that involve multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multimedia, and operatic elements.

Since graduating from Juilliard, Michael Slattery has enjoyed an exciting international career. He has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the French National Orchestra in Paris, the Akademie für Alte Musik in Berlin, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. Career highlights include Peter Sellars’ Tristan Project at Lincoln Center, the title role in Bernstein’s Candide at Royal Festival Hall in London, and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Châtelet Theater in Paris, the Staatsoper in Berlin, and at Glimmerglass. His voice has been recorded for film and television and he was recently included in the Spectator’s list of “Heroes of the Concert Hall”. In this concert, he also plays the shruti-box, an instrument whose origin is in early India, where it served as a chanter to accompany religious songs.

Michael Slattery: tenor, shruti-box
Sylvain Bergeron: lute
Sean Dagher: cittern
Grégoire Jeay: flute, recorder
Amanda Keesmat: cello
Alex Kehler: violin

2014-15 Season

EMSI celebrates its thirtieth anniversary season

To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, the Early Music Society of the Islands will present some of the biggest stars in the field of early music. Musicians from England, France, Germany, Italy, and across North America will perform in Victoria, many of them for the first time.

The theme of the season is Great Composers, with programs devoted to works by Bach, Dowland, Handel, Monteverdi, Mozart, and Vivaldi. The season is anchored by two special events: one is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (December 20th), performed for the first time in Victoria as Bach would have heard it. The other is Handel’s glorious oratorio Theodora (February 15th), a production featuring the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Vancouver Cantata Singers, under the direction of Alexander Weimann.

The season begins on Saturday, October 4th with a fascinatingly conjectural program: could the great John Dowland have been born in Ireland? How would his songs, among the greatest ever written, have sounded had they been performed in a Dublin pub? American tenor Michael Slattery and La Nef (Montreal) make a compelling case for their Celtic versions of Dowland’s compositions. This concert is sure to appeal to all lovers of great singing and folk music, as well as to lovers of renaissance song.

Other concerts feature Pacific MusicWorks (Seattle), directed by Stephen Stubbs, performing madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi, Accademia Hermans (Italy), playing music by Vivaldi and his imitators, Kristian Bezuidenhout (England/South Africa) in a programme devoted entirely to the piano sonatas of Mozart, and tenor Jeffrey Thompson and La Rêveuse (France) performing the music of Henry Lawes. The season wraps up on April 25th, when VocaMe (Germany) performs music by one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the middle ages: Hildegard of Bingen.

Subscription and individual tickets are on sale now from the McPherson Box Office.