Archive for the News Category

Green Mountain Project 2013

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 21, 2012 by Craig Zeichner

promo-2

How many live performances of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 have you attended? Let me rephrase the question, how often have you heard the Vespers performed by critically acclaimed singers and instrumentalists (including strings, cornetti and sackbuts) in a marvelous venue (Church of St. Mary the Virgin in NYC and St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge, MA)?

If you live in either city or just love this music and want to promote it, I urge you to contribute to the Green Mountain Project 2013’s Kickstarter campaign in support of their performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. Here’s some of what you will hear:

I first learned about the Green Mountain Project back in 2010 when I was researching an Early Music America Magazine story about the Vespers. I interviewed soprano Jolle Greenleaf (the project’s co-artistic director) and was struck by her love and passion for the piece. I missed the New York performance that year (miserable flu laid me low), but have attended every performance since and was so impressed with TENET (Ms. Greenleaf’s vocal ensemble that forms the core of Green Mountain Project), I joined their board of directors. Here’s what I had to say about their recording of the 1610 Vespers.

You can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here and, depending on how much you pledge, get premium seats and CDs of performances of the 1610 and 1640 Vespers.  The Green Mountain Project Vespers typically sell out, so by pledging $30 or more, you guarantee yourself a seat.

Why take the word of a board member? Read what Allan Kozinn of the New York Times had to say about last year’s 1640 Vespers. 

You can learn more about the Green Mountain Project here.

1640 Vespers

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2012 by Craig Zeichner

In 17th-century Italy, vespers (the chief evening service of  the Office, the daily cycle of prayer) were celebrated with lavish music on special feasts. A vespers service contains an introit, five psalms that are framed by chant antiphons, a hymn and the Magnificat. Those are the basics. What composers have done with those psalms, hymns and Magnificat has resulted in some of the most thrilling music of the period.

Perhaps the most famous of all Vespers settings is the Vespro della Beata Vergine of Claudio Monteverdi. The Green Mountain Project’s 2010 concert commemorating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi’s Vespers was one of the finest performances of the work I’ve ever heard. The Green Mountain Project is a consortium of some of the finest performers on the early music scene and is anchored by Tenet, the excellent New York-based vocal ensemble. Last January the group again presented the 1610 Vespers and released a recording of the 2010 performance. You can buy this marvelous recording at the Tenet website. Here’s what I wrote about it last year.

The 1610 Vespers are on hiatus this year, but on January 3rd, 4th (NY) and 7th (MA)  the Green Mountain Project will present A Grand Festive Vespers in Venice, c. 1640. As much as I adore the 1610 Vespers, this new program has me very excited. Music Director Scott Metcalfe and Artistic Director Jolle Greenleaf have created a Marian Vespers for the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, based on the 1610 model. Monteverdi won’t be left by the wayside though, music from his spectacular collection of sacred works Selva morale e spirituale (published 1640/41) will be featured. Fans of the 1610 Vespers will also get to hear his setting of the hymn Ave maris stella. I’m also very excited about the other music on the program too. The Venetian master Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1555 – 1612) and Milanese composer-nun Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602 – c.1676) will also be featured.

I heard Gabrieli here

The inclusion of Gabrieli and Cozzolani is particularly thrilling for me. One of my greatest musical memories was hearing Gabrieli’s music at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice. Surrounded by Tintoretto paintings we were bathed in Gabrieli’s brilliant polychoral writing. Cozzolani may be the hidden treasure on the program. Her story is remarkable and her music sublime (Robert Kendrick’s excellent essay is a good place to learn more about her). For years I’ve been grabbing any Cozzolani recordings I could find and, thankfully her discography has grown over the years. Who knows? Maybe there’s a Cozzolani Vespers yet to happen. Monteverdi, Gabrieli, Cozzolani and the Green Mountain Project. This one is going to be a winner.

Tickets for all the Green Mountain Project concerts are available on their website.

Here are some highlights of the 2011 performance of the 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine.

How do you actually get to Carnegie Hall?

Posted in News with tags , , on July 28, 2011 by Craig Zeichner

One of the many things I love about my job is working with such clever colleagues. Here’s one of the gems one of them just completed. So, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Would love to hear from some of you musicians out there.

The life of a classical musician

Yale in New York: Stylus Fantasticus

Posted in News with tags , , , , on April 18, 2011 by Craig Zeichner

I’ve been greatly impressed by the Yale Baroque Ensemble, an outstanding group of young performers in an intensive one-year postgraduate program for string players dedicated to the study and performance of baroque music. The omnipresent (he’s just back from a touring Boston Early Music Festival production, and is performing as concertmaster in New York’s Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Choir’s complete Bach Cantata series) baroque violinist Robert Mealy is the man heading the program and Mealy and company are coming to Zankel Hall on April 25th as part of the eclectic Yale In New York series when they present a program called Stylus Fantasticus.

The program is super juicy:

Dario Castello (fl. early 17c): Sonata decimaquarta (two violins, two cellos, harpsichord from Sonate Concertate in Stil Moderno, Libro II, Venice 1629)

Giovanni Paolo Cima (c. 1570–1622): Sonata a tre (two violins, cello, harpsichord from Concerti Ecclesiastici, Milan, 1610)

Castello: Sonata quarta (two violins, harpsichord)

Giovanni Battista Fontana: (c. 1589–1630): Sonata seconda (violin, harpsichord from Sonate… per il violino, Venice 1641)

Michelangelo Rossi (1602–1656): Toccata settima (harpsichord)

Castello: Sonata decima two violins, cello, harpsichord

Tarquinio Merula (1594–1665): Ballo detto Eccardo & Ciaconna (violins, cello, harpsichord from Canzoni ovvero Sonate Concertate, Libro III, Venice 1637)

Johann Rosenmüller (1619–1684): Sonata quarta (two violins, cello, harpsichord
from Sonate a 2, 3, 4, 5 stromenti d’arco, Nuremburg 1682)

Intermission

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644–1704): Battalia (full ensemble)

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: (1620–1680): Sonata a tre violini (three violins, continuo)

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–1667): Toccata (harpsichord)

Schmelzer: Sonata quarta (violin, harpsichord from Sonate unarum fidium, Vienna 1664)

Henry Purcell (1659¬–1695): Three Parts upon a Ground (full ensemble)

Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713): Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 4 (full ensemble)

Tickets are available at the Carnegie Hall website and at the box office.

Victoria

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Craig Zeichner

There should be more of a hubbub about the Victoria anniversary year. As a matter of fact, you might not have even known that 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis da Victoria, the finest of all Spanish composers.

It’s an interesting coincidence that Victoria (1548 – 1611) was born in Ávila, the hometown of St. Teresa (1515 – 1582), the great Christian mystic. Victoria’s music has a spiritual intensity that puts him in a unique place and to my mind only Bach, Messiaen and John Coltrane achieve similar results. For me, Victoria sits comfortably in the company of St. Teresa.

Bernini's "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa"

And with El Greco too. A contemporary of Victoria (El Greco’s dates are 1541 – 1614), his paintings capture in oils and canvas what Victoria’s does with music.

El Greco's "Assumption of the Virgin"

I hear Victoria’s Marian music with its bright, heaven-bound, lighter-than-air qualities and my brain references El Greco’s work. Both masters have a straight-to-the-heart, take-no-prisoners appeal that leaves no middle ground. Listen to the Victoria Requiem or Tenebrae Responses and El Greco’s dark, pained skies and suffering Saints come to mind.

El Greco's "Christ Carrying the Cross"

I first heard Victoria during a Good Friday service at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in NY about 20 years ago. The choir was singing his Popule meus during the veneration of the cross. It’s one of the pieces Victoria included it in a massive publication called Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae which includes nine Lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet, hymns, settings of the Passion and other music. Published in Rome in 1585, it is the most complete collection of music for Holy Week ever created.

Victoria’s Lamentations of Jeremiah for Maundy Thursday are going to be sung by TENET, the superb vocal ensemble on March 19th at that very St. Ignatius of Antioch Church where I had my Victoria epiphany. This is going to be an outstanding program because in addition to Victoria, TENET is singing works by Cristobal de Morales (c. 1500 –1553), Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) and a selection from the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (13th c.). If you don’t know the music of the Spanish Siglos de Oro, you are in for a revelation. Morales was the most important Spanish composer before Victoria and Guerrero always surprises, a composer skilled in both sacred and secular music.

Tickets are available from TENET and can also be purchased the night of the concert. Past experience with TENET concerts means you would do well to order now, St. Ignatius fills up rather quickly.

Tributes: Elegies and Homages

Posted in News with tags , , , , on February 5, 2011 by Craig Zeichner

Portrait of Tymotheos, (perhaps Gille Binchois) by Jan Van Eyck (c.1432).

I’m always excited when the excellent vocal ensemble TENET has an upcoming concert. Their concerts have that elusive mix of brilliant programming wed to stunning artistry. I’ve been knocked out by this ensemble since the first time I heard them and right now I think they are the best mixed voice ensemble in town. Kudos to artistic director Jolle Greenleaf for shaping such an ensemble and having such a good nose for repertoire. On February 12th the group will sing a program of elegies and homages spanning the 15th to 20th centuries. What makes this really enticing is the mix of repertoire and the way the repertoire relates: a motet by Binchois sets the table for Ockeghem’s Mort tu as navrè de ton dart, a work that mourns the death of Binchois. Ockeghem then becomes the subject of Josquin Des Prez’s memorial Nymphes des bois. The clever game of funereal tag continues with music by Clemens non Papa (how I love that name!), Jacobus Vaet, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd — and that’s just the Renaissance music!

The blessed Josquin.

The second half of the program serves up brilliant 19th and 20th century English choral homages by Parry, Stanford, Vaughan Williams and Howells. If you give a fig about beautiful choral music you are going to love these works.

TENET is the core group at the heart of those spectacular Green Mountain Project Monteverdi Vespers performances we’ve been treated to for the past two years, so this is going to be one of the year’s best. John Scott, Director of Music at Saint Thomas Church, is the guest conductor and if you know anything of the repertoire they sing at St. Thomas, you know Scott has this music in his blood.

You can order tickets for this and other TENET concerts (they have a Spanish Renaissance program and Bach and His Predecessors concert on the horizon) at their website.

One more thing. TENET’s concerts are held at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, one of the city’s most beautiful churches and one of my very favorite places to hear this music. The church is bound to fill up quickly, so I suggest getting your tickets ASAP.

Buxtehude won’t be on the February 12th program, but here’s TENET in his heart-stopping Jesu, meines Lebens Leben.

Baroque baddies

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 21, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

He could be a bass singing a da capo aria.

I just read a great review by Stephen Rice of the Glossa recording of William Hayes’ The Passions, an ode for music in the current issue of Oxford’s Early Music. One spectacular line stood out, “Basses usually get to sing the best baddies, Baroque composers reaching for low notes when nastiness is required with the predictability of Hollywood casting director speed-dialing Alan Rickman.” Brilliant!

Who are some of your favorite Baroque baddies? Please share.

Another gem from Glossa.

Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit was the first piece of French baroque music that I ever encountered. Sir David Willcocks’ with the Kings College Choir, Cambridge and the English Chamber Orchestra on Angel was the first recording of the piece that I owned and many years later it remains a favorite.

Charpentier’s use of traditional French noëls gives the work its unique charm. Here’s a terrific post about the piece on this from the Magnificat blog, hopefully we will get a Magnificat recording of it some day.

A Charpentier Discovery

Posted in News with tags , on November 9, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Patricia Ranum has discovered a new Marc-Antoine Charpentier manuscript. Read about it

Antonio Florio’s Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini on Glossa

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

Rave all you want about Harmonia Mundi, I think the best early music label is Glossa. They have fantastic artists, interesting repertoire, superior engineering and gorgeous packaging. The artist roster is about to get better with the addition of the superb Naples-based Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini. Their recordings of obscure Neapolitan baroque music were mainstays of the Naive label, but Naive stepped away from the Neapolitan project and decided to shift their energies to recording every note that Vivaldi wrote. That’s not a bad thing but I sure missed those Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini recordings. Here’s the news.

To learn more about the Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini, visit them at their website.

Here’s the ensemble in an excerpt from Cristoforo Caresana’s marvelous Christmas cantata

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