Archive for the News Category

4 X 4 Baroque Music Festival

Posted in News with tags on August 26, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

I’m sorry I missed tonight’s Bach and Before concert, but there are still some tasty things to come. What a great opportunity to hear A-list performers in terrific repertoire. Check out the artist roster.

Tomorrow night’s Across the Alps: Handel in Italy has music by Muffat (I so love saying “Muffat”) Bach and Handel (his terrific Dixit Dominus). Saturday night’s Three, Songs from Venice and Rome is right in my groove zone with music by the underrated but relentlessly brilliant Giovanni Felice Sances and Barbara Strozzi (and others) and Monday has concertos from the blessed Antonio Vivaldi’s L’estro armonico – listen closely and you will realize that Stravinsky had his head up his…sleeve when he said Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 400 times. All this great music and what does it cost you? Nothing! These are free concerts. Miss them at your own peril.

Georg Muffat, have you heard the muffat man?

For more information visit the 4 X 4 Baroque Music Festival

New York Polyphony at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

I am happy to see that New York Polyphony will be singing this Sunday’s service music at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. They will be singing:

13th Century English Mass, from the Worcester Fragments (c. 1300)

Andrew Smith (b. 1970): Flors regalis

Beata viscera, from the Worcester Fragments

There will also be organ music by Buxtehude, Dupré and Langlais.

For more information, visit the Saint Thomas Church

A new friend

Posted in News with tags , on August 5, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

One of the great things about having my early music blog is feedback from readers. Here’s a video sent to me by the Swedish lutenist and guitarist Jonas Nordberg. He’s playing Robert de Visée’s Prélude et Allemande from the Suite in a minor. Mr. Nordberg told me that he is working on a recording of music by Visée. The label and release date are yet to be decided, but based on this video it’s certainly worth waiting for!

Early Music at the Miller Theatre

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

The  upcoming season at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University has some choice  early music concerts. I can’t wait to hear Stile Antico, New York Polyphony,  Sequentia and Le Poème Harmonique. The Bach and the Baroque series looks pretty  hot too – TENET is a group that more audiences need to know and they have selected some fantastic repertoire.

Here are the details from the Miller Theatre press release:

Early Music

October 16
An ensemble of a dozen unaccompanied singers, most still in their twenties and three who are sisters, Stile Antico is revitalizing Renaissance choral music. The group performs without a conductor, approaching choral works with the dynamic cohesion of a string quartet. This program focuses on the musical responses of composers faced with their own mortality, featuring swansongs and memorials by such masters as Lassus, Dufay, des Prez, and Byrd.

Stile Antico

November 20
New York Polyphony, rising stars on the early music scene, has been likened to Anonymous 4 for their impeccable ensemble and wide-ranging programming. They perform Flemish and Tudor music for men’s voices, bringing a unique richness to selections by Ockeghem, Brumel, Dunstable, and Taverner, including excerpts from their new album, Tudor City.

New York Polyphony

January 22
In the 12th century, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was far more than a tourist mecca. It was an entire city unto itself, with a private port on the Seine and its own schools, laws, and social life. In this passionately performed, meticulously researched program, Benjamin Bagby and his acclaimed medieval ensemble Sequentia bring that bygone era to life, suffusing centuries-old music with striking immediacy.


February 19
Court composers in 17th century Spain and Italy often borrowed amply from street dances and folk songs, inspired by the rhythms, melodies, and improvisatory freedom of popular music. The ever-enticing Le Poème Harmonique returns to take us on a tour of this spirited music—complete with guitar and castanets. The program will feature the group’s soprano Claire Lefilliâtre, who garnered special mention after their performance last season: “Le Poème Harmonique’s five singers produced beautifully balanced sound, but the clear standout was Claire Lefilliâtre, who brought a virtuosic flair to the soaring, ambitiously ornamented soprano line.” (The New York Times)

Le Poème Harmonique

April 2
The intensely spiritual, passionate music of Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria has moved generations of listeners. The Tallis Scholars return to the series with a program celebrating the 400th anniversary of Victoria’s death, focusing on his grandest choral works, including the composer’s crowning achievement: the monumental Requiem.

The Tallis Scholars

Bach and the Baroque

March 26
One of the most respected period instrument ensembles in the world, REBEL has been praised by The Boston Globe as “vital…dashing…with performances that lacked nothing in inwardness, charm, or brilliance.” Antonio Vivaldi’s concerti for two solo instruments inspired some of Bach’s most brilliant music. Rebel explores the fascinating connection between the two composers in a program of double concerti for strings and harpsichords.


April 28
The delightful and entertaining Flanders Recorder Quartet has set out to right what they consider Bach’s sole shortcoming: his small output for recorder. The ensemble, whose delicate sound has been likened to Baroque organ, arranges works for keyboard and other instruments in this program, featuring Bach’s lively Italianate concerti, inventive preludes and fugues, beautifully expressive chorales, and monumental passacaglie.

Flanders Recorder Quartet

May 14
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th St.)
Bach revolutionized German music, but like all great composers, he had his forbearers, such as Heinrich Schütz and Dieterich Buxtehude. The “sensational” new ensemble TENET joins forces with Spiritus Collective to perform festive German Baroque works for voice, strings, and brass, culminating in Bach’s brilliant early motet Jesu, meine Freude.


Complete details are at the Miller Theatre website

Here’s New York Polyphony singing Christopher Tye’s In Pace

Lyrichord podcasts

Posted in News with tags on May 17, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

Lyrichord’s podcasts are a terrific idea and a great way to learn more about early music. Check them out at the Lyrichord

Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

I’m really excited about an upcoming production of Rameau’s Pigmalion by the Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble. This should be quirky fun with an extremely clever take on the always fascinating French composer’s work. I quote from the company’s press release:

“Rameau’s music stunned its original auditors with its dissonance and innovation. In order to capture his daring for modern ears, the evening’s curtain-raiser features performance artist Lynn Book in preview scene from “The Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie.” In this trans-media treatment of the Prologue from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, Book creates an alternative narrative and sonic world to the opera scene that includes video by media artist Robin Starbuck and music composed by Katharina Klement (who will appear live from Vienna via Skype). The precedent for this format is taken from a March 20, 1754 revival of Pygmalion performed alongside the Prologue from his Platèe. “

This is going to be very hip. Also very “HIP” as in “historically informed performance” because the outstanding baroque violinist Robert Mealy is leading the period instruments of the Sinfonia New York.

Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady (Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Pigmalion, 1748) is being performed on May 13, 2010 at 7:30 PM at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater.

For more information visit Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble at their

Monteverdi Vespers at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys

If you are a member of the Saint Thomas congregation, or have ever strolled into the church for a Sunday morning service, or dropped in for Evensong you know about the choir. They are one of the finest in the world.

Regular visitors to this blog know that I can go on and on about Monteverdi and his miraculous Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610. We celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Vespers this year and the March 19th performance with John Scott conducting The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, Concert Royal and some superb soloists is going to be another highlight of New York’s celebration of the work. Festivities kicked off with the Green Mountain Project’s revelatory one-voice-on-a-part performance at Saint Mary the Virgin in January and if you enjoyed that, you owe yourself the treat of hearing the “big band” version of the work at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue.

The 1610 Vespers title page

I’m a member of the Saint Thomas congregation and have the joy of hearing the choir every Sunday morning. Whether it’s Victoria or Vaughan Williams, it’s always a sublime experience. The choir excels in Italian music of the early baroque— I’ve heard them sing Croce, Andrea Gabrieli (the marvelous Missa brevis, a work that deserves wider recognition), Grandi and others—so they are going to soar in the Monteverdi.

Tickets are available at the Saint Thomas Church website.

More Monteverdi

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

I can never get enough of the sacred music of Claudio Monteverdi. Last week I heard the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys sing Monteverdi’s Messa da capella and look forward to the same choir singing the Vespro della beata Vergine on March 19th.

Monteverdi magic from Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys

Another splendid opportunity to hear some of Monteverdi’s spectacular sacred music is being served up by Tenet, a group of some of New York’s finest singers and instrumentalists, on February 13th at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church.

Tenet will be performing selections from Monteverdi’s epochal Selva morale e spirituale. If you don’t know this music your life has been all the poorer. In 1640 or so, Monteverdi compiled a massive collection of sacred works that he composed during his three decade tenure as maestro di cappella at San Marco in Venice. The collection was published in 1641 in Venice in ten partbooks containing no fewer than 37 works for various groups of voices and instruments. There are virtuoso solo motets, concertante psalms and polyphonic mass movements composed in the old style. This was the last collection of works published in Monteverdi’s lifetime and no other composer in 1640 could dip into such a deep bag of musical magic tricks.

I don’t know what Tenet has scheduled for the concert but if you love Monteverdi’s madrigals or Vespro della beata Vergine, you are going to be blown away by the Selva.

For more information about the Selva concert, visit Tenet

For more information about the Vespers concert, visit Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue

Here’s a taste of some of the music from Selva morale e spirituale

Confitebor primo performed by Ensemble Elyma

Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius performed by Philippe Jaroussky

Dixit Dominus II performed by Ensemble Elyma

Pianto della Madonna performed by Agnès Mellon

Haydn at the Hayden

Posted in News with tags , , , , on December 15, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

"One of these days, bang, zoom, right to the moon!"

How many Haydn operas do you know? How many Haydn operas have you ever seen on stage? If you are in New York you are going to have a rare opportunity to answer yes to both questions when The Gotham Chamber Opera presents Haydn’s comic opera Il mondo della luna (The World on the Moon). The unusual venue for the performances (five are scheduled during January 19 – 28th, 2010) is the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, American Museum of Natural History.

The Hayden Planetarium? Here’s what the press release says about the production, “For the first time ever, the Hayden Planetarium will be transformed into an intimate opera house using a 180-degree dome and projections courtesy of NASA. Taking advantage of breakthroughs in laser and light technology, Il mondo della luna will fuse live opera and stargazing, immersing the audience in a completely new kind of theatrical event – an out-of-this-world experience for opera lovers, science buffs, and theatergoers alike.”

The production is directed by Diane Paulus, whose brilliant modern-dress setting of Monteverdi’s L’orfeo was one of the high points of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Monteverdi opera cycle a few years ago, so this should be a gem of a production.

For more information and tickets, be sure to visit Gotham Chamber Opera.

The Italian Green Mountain Boy

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 3, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

2010 marks the 400th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata Vergine, the most spectacularly beautiful collection of hymns, psalms and setting of the Magnificat ever written. (For those keeping score, Monteverdi actually wrote two settings of the Magnificat that can be used in the Vespers).

The Vespro della beata Vergine is probably my favorite work in the repertoire and I pay homage with this blog’s name. Monteverdi is a touchstone composer for me. I’ve written about his operas in Time Out New York, will be writing a feature about the Vespers in an upcoming issue of Early Music America magazine, and even managed to visit his tomb in the Basilica S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice.

You have to search a bit to find it

As you can tell, Monteverdi is my boy so I don’t recommend performances or recordings of his music lightly. Attention must be paid to the cleverly named Green Mountain Project, (if you speak Italian you’ll know that Monteverdi translates to “Green Mountain”), a collective of “A” list early music specialists who will be presenting what may will be the first performance of the Vespro della beata Vergine in the anniversary year. If you are in the New York city area, I strongly recommend attending.

Full details can be found at