Tributes: Elegies and Homages

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.

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