Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's the program for the NYD concert, New Year's Day at 2PM, 2nd at 8PM at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Doors open 1/2 hr. before the concert.

A New Year’s Day Concert            

Sonata da Chiesa Op. 1 No. 1 Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

Salva nos from Op. 1 No. 1 Francesco Bonporti (1672-1749)

Toccata – Partite sopra l’aria della Folia Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)

Sinfonia per Liuto Anon.
Largo-Allegro-Largo-Allegro

Sonata da Chiesa Op. 3 No. 5 Corelli

Intermission

Prelude- Allemande-Prelude Thomas Baltzar (1631?-1663)

Serenata con Violini Scarlatti
Sinfonia-Recit -Aria, Largo-Recit-Ritornello & Aria-Recit-Aria, Andante-
Recit-Aria, Largo-Recit-Recit Accompagnato


Program Notes 
Few composers have been as famous and influential in their own lifetimes as Arcangelo Corelli. His trio sonatas, solo sonatas and concerti grossi were the model for all composers who wrote in those Italianate forms. Indeed, Corelli may have been a little chauvinistic when it came to French music. Corelli was in charge of the orchestra which gave the debut of the young Handel’s oratorio La Resurezzione. Handel had composed a very French Overture, rather than an Italianate Sinfonia to introduce the piece. Corelli’s orchestra fell apart and could not get through this movement, and the Italian said to Handel ‘Ma, cara sassone, - But my dear Saxon, this is in the French style, which I do not understand.’ Handel went back to his desk and composed something more Italianate.  

Corelli’s Opus 1 and 3 trio sonatas come with partbooks labeled ‘violino primo, violino secondo, organo’ and ‘violone o arcileuto’. The violone (what we would call a cello, but maybe a biggish one) and archlute book has melodic material shared with the violins, but also has the same figures above the notes as the organ part, which suggests that the archlute player, at least, did double duty as melodic bass and chordal instrument.


A contemporary description of the demeanor of Corelli, who is said to have dressed in all black, tells us that in performance ‘it was usual for his countenance to be distorted, his eyes to become as red as fire, and his eyeballs to roll as if in an agony’. Here then is a man with the diabolical image which Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ sonata alludes to and the Romantic violinist Paganini later exploited. Indeed, Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale and 1970s country rock hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia also feature violin playing devils. Thomas Baltzar moved to England from his native Germany during the Commonwealth, that interregnum where there was no British court, and so, no courtly centre for music making. The composer John Wilson, previously musician-in-ordinary to Charles I and songwriter for Shakespeare plays, was making a living presenting public concerts in this period and the stupendous violinist Baltzar wowed Wilson's audience with the new-fangled German violin playing techniques. (English players had been rather stuck in a Renaissance rut, what with the fighting a civil war and everything.) John Wilson came out of the astounded audience came and checked Baltzar’s feet to make sure that he did not have devil’s hooves for feet ‘because he acted beyond the parts of a man’ with his virtuoso performance. The diarist John Evelyn says that on March 4th, 1656 ‘This night I was invited by Mr. Roger L'Estrange to heare the incomperable Lubicer (Baltzar was from Lübeck) on the Violin’. 

Not Thomas Baltzar

That the manuscript that contains the anonymous Sinfonia for archlute and continuo comes from a manuscript which had been in the library of a Czech/Austrian dynasty of counts means it is probably Italian. Lutenists and theorbo players like Francesco Conti were employed at the Imperial court throughout the 18th century and Vivaldi, who died and is buried in Vienna, wrote some lute works in a texture that was being cultivated in German speaking lands. The Corelli-esque slow movements of this piece suggest the type of ornamentation that Estienne Roger published in Amsterdam claiming that they were Corelli’s own very florid ornaments.  

Since so few High Baroque operas beyond a few of Handel’s are performed today Alessandro Scarlatti, who was a successful composer in that form, is perhaps less famous today than he might be. Similarly, his keyboard works are not as famous as those of his son Domenico though as you will hear, he was a spectacular composer for the harpsichord. The chord changes of his variations on La Folia will not be unfamiliar to regular Musicians In Ordinary concert-goers, who will have heard violin variations, guitar variations and even vulgar political songs performed to the stock bass line and tune which developed from a guitar ground of the early 17th century. (Listen for the ‘strum-strummmm-a-strum-strum’ rhythm.) Corelli has his own variations on the Folia for violin and continuo and Liszt and Rachmaninov (who erroneously calls it a ‘Theme of Corelli) wrote variations on it in the 19th and 20th century. 

An early guitar alfabeto notation Folia shows how the strums go (down, down, up). 
There's a bit more information in the one Philip will play. 

Alessandro Scarlatti was also a very prolific composer of cantatas both with just continuo and with other instruments, again, a much under-performed genre considering what a large slice of so many composers’ works it comprises. Very often the Cantata’s text is a description of the joys or sorrows (usually the sorrows) of an amorous shepherd, in the kind of perfect love only possible in the pastoral tradition. The pains of this shepherd are usually reported by another shepherd looking on. This all sounds terribly mannered to us today, but the pastoral tradition was used for centuries to demonstrate how perfect political entities might work, how the perfect host might behave, and, in the case of song, how the perfect lover might feel. Is it any less mannered than a present day hospital drama or cop show? 

Throughout the cantata we see Scarlatti deploy the bag of tricks used by a composer of operatic ‘music-drama’. He moves seamlessly between speech-like declamation and arioso passages in the recitatives as the emotions of the shepherd swirl. The arias, with their infectious melodies, narrow the focus onto one ‘affect’ of the spurned lover and in the sad airs, use suspensions in the violins to paint his anguish. 

Happy New Year. 

Guests

Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University and contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire, and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with many ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violin, viola, rebec, vielle and viola d’amore. He was concertmaster for a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology soon to be released by Indiana University Press, and most recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream.


Edwin Huizinga has toured throughout the world with Tafelmusik and performed with the Aradia Ensemble and I Furiosi. He has soloed with the Oberlin, Note Bene and San Francisco Baroque Orchestras, the San Bernardino Symphony, the Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra, the Sacramento Baroque Ensemble and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra. He has been the concert master of the San Francisco Bach Chorale, the guest director of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, has toured with the Wallfisch Band under Gustav Leonhardt and was a guest artist at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Currently a member of the ensemble Passemezzo Moderno, and recently made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Theatre of Early Music, he has a passion for bringing chamber music to the people and was a founding member of the Classical Revolution in San Francisco in 2006. Throughout 2012 he toured extensively with his band The Wooden Sky. 


Philip Fournier is Titular Organist of the Toronto Oratory, Director of the Chant Schola & Oratory Children’s Choir. He specializes in Gregorian Chant, which he studied at Solesmes with Dom Saulnier. He gives solo organ recitals regularly at the Oratory, is guest organist of the Toronto Tallis Choir, artistic director and continuo player of the St. Vincent’s Baroque Soloists, and is active as a composer. His organ and harpsichord teachers have included James David Christie at the College of the Holy Cross, Russell Saunders, Paul O’Dette & Arthur Haas at the Eastman School of Music, and Robert Clark & John Metz at Arizona State. Mr. Fournier was the first Organ Scholar of the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester USA, and was subsequently named a Fenwick Scholar, the highest academic honour given by the College. He was one of the recitalists of the Chapel Artists Series there in 2011. He won the Historical Organ in America competition in 1992 and performed at Arizona State University on the Paul Fritts organ, and was awarded a recital on the Flentrop instrument at Duke University. Mr. Fournier was Organist & Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland Maine, from 2000-2007, during which time he founded the Cathedral Schola Cantorum for the restoration of Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony to the Stational Masses of the Diocese of Portland.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


On 7th of November we were up at York University for a co-lecture about Hamlet and the lyric.

Seth Lerer, Dean of Arts and Humanities at University of California at San Diego gave a talk for the first part of the event. To call him a ‘Renaissance Man’ would be an understatement given the wide range of his scholarship. Seek out his appearances on various podcasts. Check his Amazon books too.

We talked about some of Ophelia’s songs, her association with the lute in one contemporary stage direction (focused on here by Prof. Deanne Williams, the organizer of the event), some songs that she should have been singing if she had been a good girl and broadened out to some melancholy emblems that are associated with Hamlet and that occur in contemporary song lyrics.

Seth had talked about how so many songs and poems seem to be coming from the wrong mouths. The bookish Hamlet writes the worst doggerel lyric poem in a letter read out by Polonius. The rude mechanical grave digger sings a song with words taken from the posh anthology of courtly poetry Songes and Sonettes, known as Tottel’s Miscellany. And Ophelia sings, with her lute in hand some of the rudest ballad songs. But not only that, we found that the texts she sings that appear to be less rude are actually associated with other near-contemporary ballad texts that where an older, richer man seduces, or attempts to seduce, a younger woman.
Would the audience at the original performances have been saying ‘Oh, she’s singing that tune that has the other words of The princely wooing of the fair maid of London by King Edward’ (to the tune of Robin is to the Greenwood Gone) and ‘Oh, that’s the one that has the other words where the rich merchant is trying it on with Bess the farmer’s wife’ (to the tune of Walsingham)?
We then sang Coy Daphne fled/Chaste Daphne fled (a 2 for 1 song with different texts that praise and mock chastity) and Like as the Lute (a kind of patchwork quilt of musical definition demonstrations for the lute song student) from John Danyel’s songbook dedicated to Miss Anne Green as an example of what young lute-learning women should be singing. After that we looked at the mega-hit Lachrimae/Flow my tears from John Dowland’s Second Book of Songs, the melancholy poet of which has many parallel symptoms with Hamlet. Download us singing that here if you haven't already.



Sunday, November 11, 2012


Here's the program and notes for our next show, Aria di Fiorenza, at Charbonnel Lounge, St. Michael’s College, 81 St. Mary Street, 7:30 PM Nov. 13th 2012 (Tickets $25/20). The translations are by Laura Pietropaolo, who is doing the pre-concert talk on Baroque poetry.

Aria in Ottava Rima Cosimo Bottegari (1564-1620)
So ben mi c’ha bon tempo Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605)
Donna s’el cor di ghiaccio Ippolito Tromboncino (fl. 1540s-60s)
Rifuta ogni diletto Bottegari

Fantasia Bottegari
Ancor che col partire Cipriano di Rore (1516-65)/Bottegari

Amarilli mia bella Giulio Caccini (1551-1618)
Tutto’l dì piango Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)
Vedrò’l mio sol Caccini
O miei giorni fugaci Peri

Aria in Terza Rima Bottegari
Timor et tremor Bottegari
Madonna, il vostro petto Alessandro Striggio (c 1535-c 1595)
Amor, che deggio far? Fabricio Dentice (d. 1581)

Ballo alla Tedesca/Romanesca/ Bottegari
Ballo Forestiere

Torna, deh torna Caccini
Aria di Fiorenza Giovanni Kapsberger (c.1580-1651)
Dalla porta d’Oriente Caccini

Program Notes
The Medici family at the end of the 16th century were not as magnificent politically as they had been a century earlier. But despite being under the sway of superpowers, over several generations they were increasingly ‘aristocratized’, becoming Dukes of Florence in 1532 and upsizing to Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1561. This meant their education moved away from hard headed matters that might help a banker-politician, the occupation of the earlier Medici, to a more rarefied course of Humanist, that is, Ancient Greek and Latin, studies. This development was great news for the arts. The pet intellectuals of Ferdinand, Grand Duke from 1587, imitating, as they thought, the Ancients, invented Baroque music and opera. But ‘The New Music’, as Caccini called his publication of the earliest Baroque solo song (see the title page below), was performed side by side with the great Renaissance composers if the workaday manuscript of Cosimo Bottegari is anything to go by.

Vincenzo Galilei would have done enough for history if he had only been the sire of Galileo the astronomer, but with Peri and Caccini he was a key member of the group that theorized the development of ‘The New Music’. Galilei prescribes, following the Ancients, the way the composer should work; the composer should observe the speech of ‘the man infuriated or excited, the married woman, the clever harlot, the lover speaking to his mistress as he seeks to persuade her to grant his wishes, the man who laments…’ and follow the diction, pitch and rhythm of their speech when setting the affections of the poetry since ‘the most important and principal part of music is the imitation of the concepts of the words’.

The composer for solo voice almost inhabits a position between musician and drama director, then, telling the performer where the speech is agitated and quick, where the exclamations of the voice rise or fall into despair and below the musical clef. Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini were the leading composers in this style. A contemporary of theirs opines that Peri’s ‘solo madrigals’ as they called them were more true to the texts, while Caccini’s had more grace.

Cosimo Bottegari’s first employment was at the court of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in Munich. Here he seems to have got into a professional rivalry with the Kappelmeister, Orlando di Lasso, one of the greatest names of late renaissance music. Lasso pioneered the Mannerist, dissonant music of the Gesualdo, Marenzio and early Monteverdi which can be heard in his Timor et tremor, a piece for a six part choir arranged for one voice and lute by Bottegari.

After the death of Duke Albrecht Bottegari moved to Florence. He had visited the court of Cosimo, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, on diplomatic missions, and on the accession of Ferdinand de’ Medici he appears to have become a permanent court fixture, and, being knighted, rose above the station of that of a salaried performer to one of ‘gentleman’.

Bottegari’s book is the only source (except for one duplicate in another manuscript) of music of Ippolito Tromboncino, the most famous singing teacher in Venice in the late 1500s. Tromboncino was friends with the satirist Pietro Aretino and the painter Titian but the dearth of surviving songs by him makes it difficult to assess whether he is the equal of those two luminaries.

Ancor che col partire seems to be a song but the melody is always present in the lute part, arranged from the four voices of the original madrigal and sometimes decorated in the ‘accompaniment’.  Solo performance seems an option at least. This madrigal had been around for about half a century when Bottegari arranged it for lute. The manuscript makes clear that arranging the lower voice parts for lute was one way of performing a madrigal as is demonstrated by the versions of partsongs by Striggio, Lasso and the Neapolitan lutenist Dentice, who sang to his own accompaniment in, a contemporary Englishman tells us, in the Spanish ‘fayning’ (ie. falsetto) fashion.

The Bottegari manuscript has a number of tunes with no words marked with rubrics like ‘Aria in terza rima’ or ‘Aria in Ottava Rima’ or ‘Sonneto’. These are records of an earlier tradition of having stock tunes on hand to sing different poetic forms to. We have selected texts from the most famous poems in ottava rima (a passage from Orlando Furioso which introduces Ariostos’s epic and our performance) and terza rima (a famous passage from the Inferno where a couple is seduced into lovemaking by the book they are reading.) If a passionate courtier had rushed up to Bottegari and begged him to sing a new terza rima he had written to his love, the lute player would have had a tune which fit the poem handy.

The Romanesca bass and chord changes can also be found in Spanish music in the 1530s, where it is called Guardame las Vacas (‘Guard my cows’). Bottegari’s lute version moves through the chords very quickly but Caccini’s Torna, deh torna builds a decorative voice part over a slow moving version of the bass, a parallel, perhaps, with Baroque architecture. Almost every composer of the early Baroque has a variations on Romanesca, be it for voice(s), violins, lute, guitar, theorbo or harpsichord.
Another famous ground bass, often heard with its original tune, was originally a piece taken from one tiny part of huge entertainment for the wedding of Grand Duke Ferdiniand to Christina of Lorraine in 1589. This tune is sometimes called ‘Ballo della Gran Duca’ or ‘Laura Soave’ or, as in Kapsberger’s version, Aria di Fiorenza. Quite why this little tune became so popular we can’t know; perhaps it’s the emphatic progression of the harmonies (are the chord changes of Pachelbel’s beloved Canon related?). The entertainment from which this tune came may have been the debut of the newly invented theorbo, or ‘chitarrone’ as it was exclusively called for the first decade of its existence. The chitarrone (‘big kithara’ perhaps, after the name of the Ancient Greek instrument of Orpheus and Homer?) was developed from bass lutes cranked up to treble lute pitch, like a cello being tuned to violin pitch. Naturally, the top two strings would not take the strain of the high tuning and are down an octave from where you’d expect. Soon the neck extension was added for the double bass notes like the ‘orchestral extension’ on modern string basses.

Translations
Aria in Ottava Rima – Ariosto
Of ladies, cavaliers, of love and war,
Of courtesies and of brave deeds I sing,
In times of high endeavour when the Moor
Had crossed the sea from Africa to bring
Great harm to France, when Agramante swore
In wrath, being now the youthful Moorish king,
To avenge Troiano, who was lately slain,
Upon the Roman Emperor Charlemagne.
Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany in ceremonial armour

So ben mi c'ha bon tempo – Anon.
Well do I know who is having a good time fa la la
Well do I know, but I'm not naming names fa la la

I know who is her favourite fa la la
But I won't blab the name around fa la la

I certainly could tell you fa la la
Who goes, who comes, who stays fa la la

She'll tease to make you crazy fa la la
To lead you to despair fa la la

But bowing and hand-kissing fa la la
Are all in vain, I know fa la la

It's no good acting stupid fa la la
By going up and down fa la la

You might as well go hang yourself  fa la la
Though that's not worth a fig fa la la

Let him who wants to waste his time fa la la
Walk ever to and fro fa la la

And ever talk and smile and cry fa la la
He'll do it all for naught fa la la

Donna s'el cor di ghiaccio – Anon.
Lady, if your heart is not ice-cold,
why don't you grieve for my grief?
Your scorn leads me to the realm of death
as though I were unworthy of life.
If my pain does not paint your countenance
with compassion's hue,
who then will prevent my death?

Rifiuta ogni diletto – Caterina di Bologna
Reject every delight and every pleasure
if you want to have eternal life with Jesus.
Most certainly you'll never be his bride
unless you tread the path that's straight and narrow.
He invites you to himself with bile and vinegar
that you will drink without complaint and willing.
You will deceive yourself in ways most foolish
if without wings to Heaven you'll try flying.
Good deeds have value if they're done while living
for after death what good are they to others?

Amarilli mia bella – Guarini
Amaryllis, my love,
don't you believe you are my heart's desire?
Believe it!  And if doubt assails you,
take this arrow, tear open my breast,
and you will find writ boldly on my heart:
Amaryllis, Amaryllis, Amaryllis is my love.

Tutto'l dì piango – Petrarch
All day I weep; and then at night,
when wretched mortals take their rest,
I find myself crying, redoubling my ills.
So I spend the time that's mine in tears.

With sad moisture I consume my eyes
and my heart with pain, and I am the worst of creatures
for the arrows of Love  pierce me deeply
and keep me ever banished from peace.

Alas, from dawn to dawn, from night to night,
I have already run the greater part
of this death that is called life.

Another's failing grieves me more than my own ills:
for living pity and the help I have relied on
see the fire burning and do not come to aid.

Vedrò'l mio sol – Guarini
I will see my sun again.
I will see, before I die,
the longed-for day
when your bright eyes
again will shine on me.
Oh light of my life, my joy.
Sweeter it is for me
to live in torment for you
than in pleasure with another.
But death must come to me,
for I will not withstand
my suffering much longer.
And if I'll die,
with me will die the hope
ever to see the dawn
of that bright day.

O miei giorni fugaci – Rinuccini
O fleeting days, o life too brief,
you are fast vanishing,
and now I hear, or so it seems to me,
the trumpet of Judgement Day
that summons me before you,
O Lord most just and fair.

I hear its awesome sound
resounding in my heart.
Lord have mercy on my soul.
My Lord forgive me.
William Blake's depiction of The Lovers' Whirlwind from Dante's Inferno

Aria in Terza Rima – Dante
On a day for dalliance we read the rhyme
of Lancelot, how love had mastered him.
We were alone with innocence and dim time.
Pause after pause that high old story drew
our eyes together while we blushed and paled;
but it was one soft passage overthrew
our caution and our hearts.  For when we read
how her fond smile was kissed by such a lover,
he who is one with me alive and dead
breathed on my lips the tremor of his kiss.
That book and he who wrote it was a pander.
That day and on we read no further in it.

Timor et tremor – Anon.
Fear and trembling come upon me
and the gloom has fallen upon me.
Be gracious to me, o Lord,
be gracious to me,
for my soul takes refuge in you.
Give ear, o God, to my supplication
since you are my fortress
and my strong refuge.
O Lord, I have called upon you.
Let me not be confounded.

Madonna, il vostro petto e' tutto ghiaccio – Anon.
My lady, your heart is made of ice
and mine is all afire,
and so it's my desire
to melt with my own flame
the ice within your chest
by coming breast to breast
and holding in embrace.
O happy will the day and hour be
when in your arms I'll die a blissful death.

Amor, che deggio far? – Anon.
Love, what must I do?
What counsel do you give
to  one like me deprived
of light and comfort?
Take pity on me,
and at the very least
restore to light my heart
that dies, alas, unfairly

Torna, deh torna – Rinuccini
Come back to me, my dearest one,
come back to me.
Without you I am bereft of heart.
Where do you hide?
No more I see you.
No more I hear from you, my love.

Fly now to my embrace.
Dispel the pain that
does my heart consume.
Hear now the plaintive sound
of this my feeble voice
begging forgiveness
amidst the tears and sighs.

Dalla porta d’Oriente – Menadori?
From the gates of the East
came the bright shining dawn,
sparkling in the heavens,
and it tinted the clouds
and with dewy breezes
opened the lilies and scattered roses.

Then as over our blessed realm,
it shed its sweet rays,
it saw appear among us
the brightness of another light.
Daylight brought another dawn
to dispel the darkness.

To clear the veil of darkness
a sweeter more charming
and lovely damsel
illuminated the pink clouds of heaven,
and with purple flames
fired the morning breezes.

From her amorous lips
Love issued with fresh darts;
spirits were decorated
with exotic pearls
and a sweet ruby fire
lit up miserable hearts.

From her tresses,
loose in the breeze
gold took its laughter
and her snowy white cheeks
were dappled with purple,
and on her alabaster neck
jasmine glittered.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


On Monday we did a class at the lovely campus of Glendon College, York University. The course was called ‘Performing the Baroque’, a Drama course taught by Guillaume Bernardi.
First we demonstrated what Renaissance music sounded like, using as an example Donna s’el cor di ghiaccio by Ippolito Tromboncino. Tromboncino was a Venetian, famous as a singing teacher. He was friends with Pietro Aretino, a great satirist of the 16th century, who in a letter invites Tromboncino to dinner, saying that the courtesan, and Ippolito’s student, Francheschina will be there, as will the great painter Titian.  A painting of Titian’s shows a disinterested Venus staring off into the distance as a lute player serenades her longingly.  Could this be Ippolito and Franceschina?

In this music the written out lute parts imitates the different voices of an imaginary choir, something that Vincenzo Galilei, father of the famous astronomer, and co-inventor of Baroque music says is an import into vocal music from instrumental music, though he was probably wrong about that. ‘Thus the cithara players, wishing to make up for this defect (that is being unable to deliver poetry) introduced on their instruments a way of playing several airs together in consonance.’ Like a good late Renaissance man, Vincenzo thinks that musicians should imitate the Ancients, who would declaim ‘lyric’ poetry to the lyre (now replaced by some kind of lute). Further, and still in the spirit of the Renaissance, he wrote, ‘the most important and principal part of music is the imitation of the concepts of the words’ and that the best musicians would observe ‘the man infuriated or excited, the married woman, the clever harlot, the lover speaking to his mistress as he seeks to persuade her to grant his wishes, the man who laments…’ As an example of this prescription we performed Amarilli mia bella, the greatest hit of the early Baroque, from Vincenzo’s colleague Giulio Caccini from his Le Nuove Musiche. The part for the lutenist or chitarrone player (an instrument also called ‘theorbo’ and recommended by Caccini as the best accompanying instrument) is now only a slow bass line, over which chords are improvised. The accompaniment gets out of the way so the poetry can be uttered in the rhythm of speech.

Caccini was involved in what is usually credited with being the first opera. So we moved on to perform one of the most influential pieces from an early opera, performed at a court wedding to a small audience of cognoscenti, the Lamento d’Arianna, by Claudio Monteverdi with words by Rinuccini. Arianna has been dumped on a beach by her husband, and is almost schizophrenic with grief, anger and every other emotion in between.  Of course this is a treat for a composer to show off how a princess speaks, shrieks and rants as she goes through the catalogue of emotions, and the performer gets to show off what we’ll call her ‘musico-rhetorical’ skills too. Hallie talked about how the formalized gestures used by actors, singers and in fact, anyone who gave a speech in the Baroque moved from one pose, held it, then to another. The music of Montevedi reflects this as she runs the gamut of affections.

But of course, writing for a bunch of courtly eggheads in a salon is quite different from tickling a ticket buying public’s ear. As opera moved to opera houses from court chambers there were increasingly tuneful sections built on repeating chord structures and bass lines. We demonstrated this with some chunks of Barbara Strozzi’s Lament, which imitates Monteverdi’s in some parts, but integrates some of those more tuneful parts over a bass that is easier for the ear to hang on to.  (The Strozzi is not from an opera, but uses some of the same stylistic characteristics.)
Barbara Strozzi was possibly a courtesan as well. 

Building decorations on top of a solid superstructure is, of course, a crucial part of Baroque architecture, so adorning a repeating ‘ground bass’, as such basses were called in English, with a highly decorative vocal line is a sort of musical counterpart to that. We performed Caccini’s Torna, deh torna which is built on the Romanesca chord changes, changes better known in English as ‘Greensleeves’.

After all these hardcore intellectual compositions, we finished off with an ear tickler to demonstrate that everyone still liked a light canzonetta. We sang Caccini’s Dalla porta d’oriente, to a text probably by Maria Menadori.

Much of this music will be heard on our upcoming concert at St. Mike’s College on Nov. 13th.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Here's the program and notes from our first concert in The Principal's Music Series at St. Michael's College. Madden Auditorium, Carr Hall, Room 100, 100 St. Joseph Street, Tuesday, October 23, 7:30pm. Lisa Wang will be doing the pre-concert talk.

Amo Christum                       Alessandro Grandi (1586-1630)

Nigra sum                                Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Toccata Undicesimo from Il Quinto Libro   Giovanni Kapsberger (c.1580-1651)
O Maria                                   Barbara Strozzi (1619-77)

Nigra sum                                Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665)

O quam speciosa                     Grandi                                                      
Sonata – Op. 3 No. 5               Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

Toccata Prima from Il Secondo Libro    Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
O Quam tu pulchra es               Grandi                                     

Volo Jesum                              Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704)


The title page of Monteverdi’s 1610 publication, from which his Nigra sum is taken, says the contents are ‘A Mass for six voices to the Most Holy Virgin for church choirs and Vespers to be sung by many, along with certain sacred concertos (or perhaps ‘consorts’ would be better) suitable for the chapels or chambers of princes.’ These sacred consorts, then, might be sung as a motet in place of part of the Ordinary of a Mass, or might replace an antiphon at Vespers, but were certainly performed at ‘house concerts’ for the great and the good. In fact, Monteverdi wrote to his opera librettist Striggio to explain why he couldn’t possibly get away to Mantua to work on Arianna. Apart from his duties at St. Mark’s Church, ‘there is the Most Illustrious Primicerius, for whom every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, I make music in a certain oratory of his, to which half the nobility come.’ This ‘Primicerius’ was Marc’Antonio Cornaro. The Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome (the family had several Cardinals over the centuries) houses Bernini’s famous sculpture of the Ecstasy of St. Theresa, the marble expression of the ‘languishing of love’ so graphically depicted in Grandi’s O Quam tu pulchra es.

Alessandro Grandi was Monteverdi’s second-in-command at St. Mark’s. As well as secular song and church music for all combinations of from one to eight voices he published three books of motets ‘con sinfonie’ for two violins from which we present two pieces from this evening. All of his books of motets have between a fifth to over half of the texts from the Song of Solomon and others that use snippets and imagery from that book in free texts. Grandi’s Amo Christum sets a text put in the mouth of St. Agnes, who refused marriage to a mortal. Grandi quit St. Mark’s for his own maestroship at Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, though it has been suggested he needed to move his large family out of expensive Venice. This proved to be a bad move, though, as the plague swept through the town next year, taking Grandi. He was replaced by Tarquinio Merula who was quickly dismissed for gross indecency.

So we have the sober workaholic Monteverdi, who was in minor orders, the family man Grandi and the altogether unsavory Merula. How can it be possible that the women composers on our program make an even starker contrast in their lifestyles?

Barbara Strozzi was the adopted and probably illegitimate daughter of Giulio Strozzi, who was another of Monteverdi’s librettists. The well connected young woman seems to have been a courtesan, though in early modern Italy the difference between that career and professional woman singer was very fine. A portrait of her shows her quite heavily made up and revealingly dressed and she participated and entertained at meetings of various intellectual academies in the best tradition of the hetaeras at the ancient symposiums these meetings imitated. Strozzi published a book of solo motets, which includes several to the Blessed Virgin, in 1655. She could not have been singing them herself in church; were these composed for the ‘chapels and chambers of princes’ then?


Isabella Leonarda spent almost all of her long life as an Ursuline nun rising to the position of superior at the Collegio di Sant'Orsola in Novara. As well as performing administrative duties she taught music at the convent, so we can imagine that her music would have been performed there, though her prints were dedicated to eminent princes like the Emperor Leopold and the Archbishop of Milan, usually as co-dedicatees with the Virgin Mary.

Corelli’s Opus 1 and Opus 3 sonatas are usually referred to as ‘Sonate da chiesa’ but the ‘for church’ designation appears nowhere on the title pages of those publications. The part books are labeled first violin, second violin, organ and ‘violone o arciliuto’ in the Roman prints, but the melodic bass part says ‘violone o tiorba’ when it was printed in Bologna a few years later. This ‘melodic’ bass part, though, has all the figures that tell the player what chords to play that the organ part has, in addition to the melodic licks and fugal entries the organ lacks. Presumably these figures are for the lute player, not the violone player. Corelli lived and worked in the household of Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili.

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger was nicknamed ‘Il Tedesco della tiorba’. Born in Venice to a German nobleman, he moved to Rome as a young man and was patronized there by many of the princes of the church, worked in the household of Cardinal Barberini and set popes Clement XI and Urban VIII’s verses to music. One scholar has suggested the theorbo player’s toccatas (see the tablature and continuo part below) were influential on the far more famous works for keyboard by Frescobaldi, another Barberini employee.



Amo Christum
I love Christ, who renews my youth,
who with His blood adorns my cheeks. 
When I love Him, I am pure;
when I touch Him I am free from sin;
when I receive Him I am still a virgin.

I love Christ, who encircles my neck
with precious stone, who satisfies my soul with honey. 
When I love Him...

I love Christ, who overthrows
those who resist Him,
who frees me from the clutch of want. 
When I love Him...
I am pure, free from sin and a virgin.

Nigra sum (Monteverdi)
I am black but comely, daughters of Jerusalem. Therefore the king has delighted in me and brought me to his chamber and said to me: Arise, my love, and come.
For the winter is passed, the rain is over and gone; Flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is at hand.

O quam speciosa
O how beautiful have you become,
O Mary, thou lovely, thou kindly,
O Mary, sweet rose.

O Mary, sweet rose,  pray for us
to Jesus Christ our Saviour,
that he may protect and free us.
O Mary, sweet rose, thou lovely,
thou kindly, thou beauteous, thou glorious mother.
O Mary, sweet rose. 

O Mary, sweet rose, pray for us
to Jesus Christ, Son of God,
to preserve us in God’s love,
thou beautiful, decorous one,
chosen mother of God. 
O Mary, sweet rose.  Alleluia

O Maria
O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are.

She covers the earth like a cloud, a risen light, unfailing, a flame of fire, the ark of the new covenant, a lily among thorns. The throne of Sion on high is placed on the heights of this cloud.

O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are.

Begotten before time, she has circled the arc of heaven on her own, she has plunged into the depths of hell, and she has walked among the waves of the sea. She has conformed the hearts of all to her virtue, and she delights in the heritage of the Lord.

She covers the earth like a cloud, a risen light, unfailing, a flame of fire, the ark of the new covenant, a lily among thorns. The throne of Sion on high is placed on the heights of this cloud.

O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are. Alleuia.

O Quam tu pulchra es
O how beautiful you are, my love, my dove, my pretty one. Your eyes are like a doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats.
Your teeth are like a flock of ewes ready for shearing. Come from Lebanon, come my love, my dove, my pretty one. O how beautiful you are, come. Arise my bride, arise my delight, arise my immaculate one. Arise and come, for I am sick with love.

Nigra sum (Merula)
I am dark but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem.
Tell my beloved how strong is the fire of my affection,
how fierce is the flame of my love. 
I am dark but beautiful. 
Marvel at me you nations. Alleluia.

Volo Jesum
I desire the beloved Jesus,
I love the loving Christ,
and I sigh for him who calls
upon an upright spirit within me.
For Jesus is the true life of the lover who loves,
an infinite sweetness which satiates the heart
with the delights of the angels
and with the nectar of the saints.
Lamentation does not come into the soul.
If with Jesus it is content, ah, why do you not hasten,
irrational mankind, to my Jesus?
Why do you not avoid delay, that you may discover God?

Ah, come, fly, if you love yourselves, love God.
My dear beloved Jesus, I adore you,
I sigh after you, my hope is in you,
I breathe out my heart for you,
you who can restore me, my dear beloved Jesus.
You are sweet fire and flame,
burning my heart with sweet ardour,
and in the flames you are sweet hope.
A happy mountain of joys,
you are the wonder of love,
of the rivers and the flame,
the living fountain of Paradise.
O happy the one who loves you,
O blessed destiny of the heart.
You are sweet fire …

The Musicians In Ordinary
Named after the singers and lutenists who performed in the most intimate quarters of the Stuart monarchs’ palace, The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices dedicate themselves to the performance of early solo song and vocal chamber music. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards have been described as ‘winning performers of winning music’. A fixture on the Toronto early music scene for over 10 years, this year MIO became Ensemble in Residence at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto (see the enclosed brochure for MIO concerts there). They have concertized across North America and lecture regularly at universities and museums. Institutions where MIO have performed range from the scholarly to those for a more general public and include the Renaissance Society of America, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, Grinnell College, the Universities of Alberta and Toronto, the Kingston Opera Guild, Syracuse, Trent and York Universities and the Bata Shoe Museum. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

The Reverend Lisa Wang holds degrees from the State University of New York (BA), the University of Toronto (MA, MDiv), and the University of London, England (PhD).  She has published in the areas of literature and theology, ecclesiology, and Biblical interpretation.  She currently teaches at the Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, Toronto, and serves at the Cathedral Church of St James, Toronto.

Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University and contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire, and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with many ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violin, viola, rebec, vielle and viola d’amore. He was concertmaster for a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology soon to be released by Indiana University Press, and most recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream.

Patricia Ahern has a BA and BMus from Northwestern University, MMus from Indiana University, and performer diploma from the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland. She taught baroque violin at the Freiburg Conservatory in Germany and Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute, and has given masterclasses at McGill, York University, Wilfrid Laurier, University of Windsor, Western, University of Wisconsin, Grand Valley State University, and University of Toronto. She has concertized throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and South America and performed with Milwaukee Baroque, Ars Antigua, Chicago Opera Theater, Kingsbury Ensemble, Aradia, I Furiosi, Newberry Consort, Musica Pacifica, and the Carmel Bach Festival. Tricia has recorded for Sony, Naxos, and Analekta, and joined Tafelmusik in 2002.

Philip Fournier is the Organist & Director of Music at St. Vincent de Paul, served by the Fathers of the Toronto Oratory, and Director of the Oratory Children’s Choir. He is responsible for the Usus Antiquior, (Tridentine) Liturgy of the Oratory, and specializes in Gregorian Chant, which he studied at Solesmes with Dom Saulnier. He gives solo organ recitals regularly at the Oratory, is guest organist of the Toronto Tallis Choir, artistic director and continuo player of the St. Vincent’s Baroque Soloists, and is active as a composer. His organ and harpsichord teachers have included James David Christie at the College of the Holy Cross, Russell Saunders, Paul O’Dette & Arthur Haas at the Eastman School of Music, and Robert Clark & John Metz at Arizona State. Mr. Fournier was the first Organ Scholar of the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester USA, and was subsequently named a Fenwick Scholar, the highest academic honour given by the College. He was one of the recitalists of the Chapel Artists Series there in 2011. He won the Historical Organ in America competition in 1992 and performed at Arizona State University on the Paul Fritts organ, and was awarded a recital on the Flentrop instrument at Duke University. Mr. Fournier was Organist & Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland Maine, from 2000-2007, during which time he founded the Cathedral Schola Cantorum for the restoration of Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony to the Stational Masses of the Diocese of Portland. 

Friday, October 5, 2012


Here's the program and notes for the Saturday Oct. 6th concert at Heliconian Hall.  with Christopher Verrette and Justin Haynes




All lookes be pale                    Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
There is a Garden in her face   Robert Jones (c. 1577-1617)
So, so, leave off                       Alfonso Ferrabosco II (c. 1575-1628)
Romanesca                               Angelo Notari? (1566-1663)
Ahi, che s’accrese in me           Notari
Care charming sleep                 Robert Johnson (c. 1583-1634)
Three Masque Dances              Anon.
      Sir Francis Bacons Masque-Second of the Prince-The Second Witches Dance
Ben si qui mostra il Ciel            Cipriano di Rore (1515-65) arr. Notari
Was I to blame?                         Ferrabosco
Come my Celia                          Ferrabosco
Tis now dead night                    John Coprario (c. 1570-1626)
The Lady Banning her Almand John Sturt (d. 1625)
Galliard                                       Johnson

Intermission

Three lyra viol pieces                 Thomas Ford (c. 1580-1648)
       And if you doe touch me ile crie-Forget me not- A pill to purge melancholie
Voi vedet’il mio mal                  Notari?
Ruggiero                                    Notari?
Unto the temple of thy beauty    Ford
Goe to bed sweete muze            Jones
Like Hermit poor                       Ferrabosco
Prelude-Mrs. Hoffmans Alman  Sturt
So parted you                             Coprario
Not full twelve years                  Ford
Ciaccona                                    Notari?

Most of the ink spilled on the subject of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales necessarily deals with ‘what ifs’. He was born at Stirling Castle in 1594, before it was certain his father James VI of Scotland would accede to Elizabeth I’s English throne and died of typhoid in November 1612. Whether he could have avoided the clash with Parliament that ended with his brother’s beheading (Henry was described as an ‘obdurate Protestant’ so would not have provoked the puritans) is one of the ‘what-ifs’, but his one accomplishment, the setting up of his own household with a glittering array of musicians, shows that English music would have been very different had he lived.

Henry’s music teacher was Alfonso Ferrabosco II, whose father had been lutenist (and spy) to Elizabeth I. Ferrabosco the Younger partnered with the poet Ben Jonson in the production of masques, balletic entertainments which grew, in Italy and France, into court opera. With plots that patted the attendant aristocrats on the back these events also afforded the opportunity for the young prince to show off his dancing skills as a participant. He may have danced gracefully to the prince’s dance we present after chasing off the witches who danced in the grotesque anti-masque. The text of Come my Celia is not from a masque, but from Jonson’s play Volpone. So, so, leave off is by John Donne and Like Hermit poor is by Walter Raleigh.

Campion, another famous poet, added his voice to the outpouring of sermons, verse and song composed after Henry’s death. As well as his own song All lookes be pale, he wrote the words for a cycle of songs with music by John Coprario. These songs have texts which each take the point of view of members of the royal family, then Britain (a new political concept in 1612) and the World. We present the songs to Queen Anne (Tis now dead night) and Henry’s younger sister Elizabeth (So parted you). Check the brochure for our concert celebrating her wedding to a German prince in February 1613.

John, or even sometimes Giovanni Coprario was in fact John Cooper. The fashion for things Italianate was cultivated at Henry’s court and more widely but Henry snagged himself a real live Italian in the person of Angelo Notari of Padua. In 1613 Notari published a book of Musiche for accompaniment con Tiorba, a very early example of Italian baroque music in Londres. The Cacciniesque Ahi, che s’accrese in me is from that collection, as are the viola bastarda divisions on the Rore madrigal. A manuscript in Notari’s handwriting in the British Library contains the other aria and the two sets of violin ‘divisions’ on the Ruggiero and Romanesca bass lines.

Other composers working at Henry’s court include Robert Johnson, who wrote for Shakespeare’s theatre company. Care charming sleep is from Valentinian, a play by John Fletcher and shows the influence that Notari had. Lutenist John Sturt (no relation) ended up in Henry’s entourage after a long soujourn on the continent. Thomas Ford, like most of Henry’s musicians, went on to work for Henry’s little brother Charles, but published no more music. The dedication of Jones’s songbook Ultimum Vale printed opposite gives an idea of the sense of hope invested this promising young man and lets us imagine the loss felt after his passing.


Monday, September 10, 2012



This is how we bring you the latest old stuff. Our concert on Oct. 6th is all about music for Henry Stuart. 

Angelo Notari was an Italian who worked, for a short time, for Henry, Prince of Wales who was the eldest son of James I of England, VI of Scotland. Now, it's a shame Henry died of typhoid only a year after setting up his own household, because the musicians in that household were the avant garde of musicmaking. And since the Italians were the inventors of the new music Henry's music had to have an Italian in it. And that was Angelo Notari. There is a manuscript in the British Library which is in Notari's handwriting that includes many songs, some arrangements for one voice of madrigals originally for four or five voices and, very importantly, what appears to be the first music for solo violin in England. There had been a violin consort at court since Henry VIII's time of course (see previous blog entry) but this music is for one violin and continuo. 

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music library has a microfilm of Notari's manuscript and after valiant efforts by, at one point, four staff memebers led by Bryan Martin, we tracked it down and I took it over to the EJ Pratt Library, and with Northrop Frye looking down on me as he flies through space, I set up the microfilm on the reader that then took pictures of the page you see on the screen and makes a jpeg of them. See the setup above. 



Notari specifies 'tiorba' for acoompanying the voice on his book of music for 1-3 voices published in 1613, but in the manuscript is this ciaccona for once voice with a bass, but there appear to be alfabeto 'E-Z' guitar chords over the singing part. 


This is a set of divisions for violin on the 'Ruggiero' chord changes. The music is written across the two pages of the opening and you are only seeing the left hand page. 


It's very nice to have these pieces as they don't seem to be published in editions and look very cool. Come to the concert as it is very likely you won't get a chance to hear them anywhere else ever. 



Monday, April 16, 2012

The Musicians In Ordinary will be performing as part of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies spring conference Early Modern Migrations: Exiles, Expulsion and Religious Refugees 1400-1700 on Apr. 19th at 7PM at Alumni Hall, Old Victoria College, Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The public is welcome and admission is free.

A Kingly Entertainment in a Forraine Climate
Music for voice, violin band and lute by John Dowland, Thomas Simpson and members of Elizabeth I’s dance band.

Je file Philip van Wilder (d. 1553)
Dye not before thy day John Dowland (1563-1626)
Paduan – (Mistress Nichol’s) Alman     Dowland, arr. Thomas Simpson (1582-1628)
What if I never speede Dowland
Ambroses Pavin – Galliard to the pavin before Ambrose Lupo (d. 1591)
Markantonyes Gallyard Mark Anthony Galliardello (d. 1585)
Lady if you so spight me Dowland
Lachrimae Pavaen Dowland, arr. Johann Schop (c. 1590-1667)
If fluds of teares Dowland
Weepe you no more Dowland
Ronda – Represa – Brandenberges – Represa Anon. from the Lumley Partbooks
Ricercar (on Robin is to the Greenwood Gone) Simpson
Sweete stay a while Dowland
Thou mightie God Dowland
Pavana – Gallyard – Dance Anon. from the Lumley Partbooks
Cleare or cloudie Dowland



This program presents music by and from the repertoire of musical exiles and migrants to England, and from it.

The string playing families, such as the Lupos and the Galliardellos, who turned up at Henry VIII’s court appear to have been Jews who were escaping resurgent persecution in Italy. The violin band that played the music in the Lumley Partbooks, a workaday manuscript collection of Elizabethan dance band music, laid the foundations for English pre-eminence in such repertoire so that, by the beginning of the 17th century English string players such as William Brade and Thomas Simpson were exported back to the continent, leading string ensembles in North European courts. Thomas Simpson’s first employment was as musician to Frederick, Elector of Palatine, who later married the most important English export of the 17th century, James I’s daughter Elizabeth. Simpson later worked for Count Ernst III of Holstein-Schaumburg and the King of Denmark. His last publication of string band music uses the new Italianate ‘string quartet’ scoring of two violins, viola and bass violin, and has a figured bass part, here realised on the theorbo. This large continuo lute is said to have been invented for a Medici wedding but was pan-European by the 1620s.

Perhaps the most famous Englishman abroad was John Dowland, whose music can be found as far afield as the Ukraine.  He blamed his inability to find work at home on his lukewarm Catholicism, though it is far more likely to have been a product his lack of dependability and Elizabethan frugality. Indeed, his apparent early association with Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, would have been enough to make him suspect by 1595, as Essex’s position at court became precarious. Perhaps Dowland was trying to switch alleigence when he wrote a letter from Frankfurt to Essex’s nemesis, Sir Robert Cecil. In the letter Dowland provides a resume of all the European courts he has been engaged at, claims to have been offered a job in Rome and provides details of a secret Jesuit mission to England he has come across in Florence. Could the letter be a coded offer to become an agent for Cecil, who was Elizabeths’s spymaster? Certainly other lutenists, Alfonso Ferrabosco and singer-lutenist Nicholas Lanier for instance, were spies, since they had oppurtunity to travel and get access to the most intimate chambers of princes with their diminutive voiced instrument. After working for Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse and at Wolfenbüttel, Dowland obtained a position at the Danish court. but took many pre-paid leaves of absence to see publications through the press at home, and no doubt to lobby for a position for a lute position at the English court. He was dismissed by Christian IV’s civil servants and, back home, was finally appointed one of the king’s lutes.

Violinist Johann Schop never visited England, but learned his trade from English violinists at Hamburg and Copenhagen. Is it too much to draw a line from the English dance band musicians through Schop to German violinsts like Rosenmüller and Biber and on to Bach? Schop’s violin ‘divisions’ on Dowland’s Lachrimae tune was published in the Netherlands.

The foundations for Elizabethan and Jacobean lute playing were laid by Philip van Wilder. This lutenist to Henry VIII was from the South Netherlands, and is listed in court records as ‘Phyllyp of Wylde, Frensshman’. Wilder’s Je file was composed in five parts, and we play the lower parts on strings here, but there is a lute and voice version in an English manuscript.

So we see that musical migrants at the beginning of the 16th century were the bedrock on which the musical triumphs in the song, consort and lute solo music the reigns of Elizabeth and James I so admired by us today, as well as making English music and musicians valuable cultural export in the early 17th century.


The Musicians In Ordinary
Named after the singers and lutenists who performed in the most intimate quarters of the Stuart monarchs’ palace, The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices dedicate themselves to the performance of early solo song and vocal chamber music. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards have been described as ‘winning performers of winning music’. A fixture on the Toronto early music scene for over 10 years, they have concertized across North America and lecture regularly at universities and museums. Institutions where MIO have performed range from the scholarly to those for a more general public and include the Renaissance Society of America, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, Grinnell College, the Universities of Alberta and Toronto, the Kingston Opera Guild, Syracuse, Trent and York Universities and the Bata Shoe Museum. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Guests
Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer's Certificate from Indiana University and has contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire (Indianapolis), and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with numerous ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violins, viola, rebec, vielle and viola d'amore. He was concertmaster for a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology soon to be released by Indiana University Press, and most recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner's Dream.

Edwin Huizinga has toured throughout Canada, Europe and Asia with Tafelmusik and performed with the Aradia Ensemble and I Furiosi. He has soloed with the Oberlin, Note Bene and San Francisco Baroque Orchestras, the San Bernardino Symphony, the Sacramento Baroque Ensemble, the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra and the Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra. He has been the guest concert master of the San Francisco Bach Chorale, the guest director of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, has toured with the Wallfisch Band under Gustav Leonhardt and been a guest artist at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Currently a member of the ensemble Passemezzo Moderno, this November he will be making his Carnegie Hall debut with the Theatre of Early Music. Edwin has a passion for bringing chamber music to the people and is a founding member of the Classical Revolution, which began in San Francisco in 2006. He is now developing a Toronto chapter which will bring chamber music closer to the public. An avid improviser, Edwin can be found collaborating in many different genres in the artistic community.

Laura Jones is a native of Brandon, Manitoba, and it was at Brandon University that she started her formal music education. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Toronto, and went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Performance from the University of Michigan. Now living in Toronto, she enjoys a busy and multi-faceted career on both modern and period instruments. Laura has been a member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra since 1989, is the principal cellist of the Nota Bene Period Orchestra and has also performed with Opera Atelier and the Aradia Ensemble, with which she has made several recordings on the Naxos label. As a chamber musician, she performs regularly as a member of the Windermere String Quartet on Period Instruments, Talisker Players (with whom she has appeared at chamber music festivals in Elora, Ottawa, and Vancouver), and L’Intemporel Baroque Ensemble. Serenade Française, a CD of music by French composers that Laura recorded with her father, pianist Lawrence Jones, was released in 2008.

Eleanor Verrette has studied violin in Toronto with Gretchen Paxton and Aisslinn Nosky, and viola in Montréal with Pemi Paull and Anna-Belle Marcotte.  She performs regularly on viola and taille de quinte (tenor viola) in the McGill Baroque Orchestra, led by Hank Knox, which received rave reviews at the Boston Early Music Festival this summer.  She has previously performed with the Musicians In Ordinary on rebec, and frequently translates French songs for their programs. She is also a member of Afropan, Toronto's oldest steel pans orchestra.  She has recently completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance at McGill University.

Je file
I spin when God gives me the wherewithal,
I spin my distaff, oho!
Into a garden I entered, three flowers of love I found there.
I go, I come, I turn, I turn about,
I bind, I spin, I clip, I shave,
I dance, I leap, I laugh, I sing,
I heat my oven, I keep my sheep from the wolf.
I spin when God gives me the wherewithal,
I spin my distaff, to you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here's the program for  Sero sed Serio, music from the life of Sir Robert Cecil, who became Earl of Salisbury under James I. (8 PM, Mar. 17th at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Toronto).

A portrait thought to be Nicholas Lanier

O eyes leave off your weeping    Robert Hales (d. before 1616)
My heavie sprite Anthony Holborne (d. 1602)
Merry Melancholie Thomas Robinson (c. 1588-1610)
It was a time when silly bees could speake John Dowland (1563-1626)
Time stands still Dowland
Behold a wonder Dowland
Queen Elizabeth, her Galliard Dowland
Weep no more Nicholas Lanier (1588-1666)
Fire fire Lanier
Pavana Ploravit Holborne
The Fairy Round Holborne
As it fell on a Holyday Holborne
The Marigold Lanier

Thou mightie God Dowland
O beaux yeux Charles Tessier (fl.c 1600)
Earl of Salisbury Pavan William Byrd (1540-1623)
Spanish Pavan Robinson
Amour n'avance Tessier
S’il m’en souvient Tessier
Solus cum sola Dowland
The Queenes Gigue Robinson
Bravely deck’d Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

Swashbucklers like Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Philip Sidney and Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex define for us the Triumphs of Gloriana with their voyages and their Spaniard baiting and their poems, but Sir Robert Cecil, following in his father’s footsteps as Elizabeth’s most trusted advisor, was probably more crucial to Elizabeth’s last years and the smooth transition of the English crown to the Scottish King James at her death.  James rewarded Cecil for this with the title Earl of Salisbury.

Patronage was the only important currency at court. The first years of Cecil’s career were spent in ‘war by other means’ with the Earl of Essex. When the post of attorney-general became vacant Essex tried to obtain the job for his creature Francis Bacon, but William Cecil put forward his hunchbacked, Machiavellian son Robert, and Elizabeth, though quite willing to shower gifts and money on the pretty-boy Essex, promoted the younger Cecil. Bacon seems to have realized that he had backed the wrong horse and started switching allegiance, even though he had co-written an entertainment making fun of Cecil with Essex from which Behold a wonder and Time stands still are taken. Perhaps that was why Dowland addressed a letter to Cecil from Frankfurt detailing what English expatriate plots he had heard of on a trip to Florence. He seems to be saying ‘I’ve been offered these jobs at foreign courts. Do you need any spying done?’ On the Italian trip, as well as intelligence, Dowland also picked up the latest far out harmonic vocabulary of Marenzio and Gesualdo which can be heard in his Thou mightie God.

Dowland translated a Latin book of music theory and dedicated that book to Cecil. Robinson dedicated a cittern method to him and worked in his household along with Holborne, Tessier and the young Lanier (the music you hear by him this evening is probably from after he worked for Cecil).  Byrd dedicated a variant of the Spanish Pavan to him, arranged here from the keyboard original and put next to Robinson’s variations for comparison.

One great triumph of Cecil’s spy network was the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot on the 5th of November 1605, which delivered James and parliament from destruction. How sad that Cecil gets no credit for the discovery in Campion’s song, published only a couple of years after Cecil’s death.

Amour n'avance
Love does not hasten one's demise;
Howsoever it offends the heart,
Not all the wounded die.

Its blows won't kill you, in any case;
I've proved it: the years pass.
Not all the wounded die.

So don't fear, o soldiers,
if its attack has pierced you:
Not all the wounded die.

Accept my aid from this point.
I have the cure; come on, go forward!
Not all the wounded die.

O beaux yeux
O beautiful eyes, who know how to charm so sweetly,
that I must live blind, or die in servitude;
O beautiful eyes who have taught me to love,
how you make me pay for my learning.

O beautiful eyes, I neither see nor live but by you;
I am a body without a soul when I am out of your sight.
But when I see you laughing so, and so sweet,
then love, to animate me, transmutes into soul.

O beautiful eyes, who weep flames and blows,
nothing blocks your strikes; the attack is fatal.
You wound just as well from afar as at close range
and your soft glance is the dart of Céphale.

O beautiful eyes, I offer you thus what one offers up to gods:
my soul, in sacrifice, ardently aflame;
the offering is small, but alas, o beautiful eyes,
the fault is with you who have consumed it.

Si je m'en souvient
If I remember, you said to me one day,
as I offered you proposals of love,
that you were not of such weak character
as to judge the heart by the face;

That love cannot so soon be set alight,
that one must be known to be loved,
and that, hastily, I wanted to make a sheaf
of a harvest that was still sprouting.

Your arguments are hard to rebut,
but if you will please listen to my reasons,
you will understand that they are easily vanquished,
that they are no Hector nor Achilles.

Friday, March 9, 2012

We spent the week sorting out repertoire for the next concert 'Sero sed Serio', music from the life of Sir Robert Cecil, who became Earl of Salisbury under James I. (8 PM, Mar. 17th at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave. Toronto). 

There'll be some settings by John Dowland of poems by the ill fated Earl of Essex, who was locked in political conflict with Cecil. There'll be a song-cycle by Dowland where he uses the latest Italian mannerisms he no doubt picked up during the trip discussed in the letter to Cecil below. Above is Dowland's dedication to Cecil from a translation the composer made of a book of music theory.  

There'll be the only surviving song by Robert Hales a singer 'in whose voice she (the queen, that is) took some pleasure'. Cecil had set some of his own verse to flatter the queen - could the anonymous words to this song be Cecil's?

There'll be the only surviving song and some lute pieces by Anthony Holborne, who worked for Cecil as a lute player. One quotes the 'Lachrimae' theme, as does Gibbons's Earl of Salisbury Pavan. 

There'll be a set of songs by Nicholas Lanier, who got his start as a singer for Cecil and went on to become The Master of the King's Musick under Charles I.  

There'll be some French airs de cour by Charles Tessier, who worked for Cecil when he came to England looking for a good doctor. 

And there'll be a song on the Gunpowder Plot by Thomas Campion. Written a couple of years after Cecil's death, it credits the revealing of the plot to James himself 'and none other', not to the excellent spy network run by Cecil. Just shows that a politician's achievements get little credit even a couple of years after he's gone.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To the Right honourable Sir Robert Cecil knight, one of the Queen’s Majesty’s most honourable Privy Councillors, these

Sir Robert Cecil, who organised James VI of Scotland coming to the English throne 
and got to be Earl of Salisbury for his trouble. 

Right honourable: as I have been bound unto your honour so I most humbly desire your honour to pardon my boldness and make my choice of your honour to let you understand my bounden duty and desire of God’s preservation of my more dear sovereign Queen and Country: whom I beseech God ever to bless & to confound all their enemies what & whom soever. Fifteen years since I was in France servant to Sir Henry Cobham who was Ambassador for the Queen’s Majesty, and lay in Paris, where I fell acquainted with one Smith a priest, and one Morgan someone of her Majesty’s Chapel, one Verstigan who brake out of England being apprehended & one Morris a Welshman that was our porter, who is at Rome; these men thrust many idle toys into my head of religion, saying that the papists’ was the truth & ours in England all false, and I being but young their fair words overreached me & I believed with them. Within two years after I came into England where I saw men of that faction condemned & executed which I thought was great injustice taking religion for the only cause, and when my best friends would persuade me I would not believe them. Then in time passing one Mr Johnson died & I became an humble suitor for his place (thinking myself most worthiest) wherein I found many good and honourable friends that spake for me, but I saw that I was like to go without it, and that any may have preferment but I, whereby I began to sound the cause, and guessed that my religion was my hindrance. Where upon my mind being troubled I desired to get beyond the seas which I durst not attempt without licence from some of the Privy Council, for fear of being taken and so have extreme punishment. And according as I desired there came a letter to me out of Germany from the Duke of Brunswick, whereupon I spake to your honour & to my Lord of Essex who willingly gave me both your hands (for which I would be glad if there were any service in me that your honours could command). When I came to the Duke of Brunswick he used me kindly & gave me a rich chain of gold, £23 in money with velvet and satin and gold lace to make me apparel, with promise that if I would serve him he would give me as much as any prince in the world. From thence I went to the Landgrave of Hessen, who gave me the greatest welcome that might be for one of my quality who sent a ring into England to my wife valued at £20 sterling, and gave me a great standing cup with a cover gilt, full of dollars with many great offers for my service. From thence I had great desire to see Italy & came to Venice & from thence to Florence where I played before the Duke & got great favours, & one evening I was walking upon the piazzo in Florence a gentleman told me that he espied an English priest & that his name was Skidmore & son and heir to Sir John Skidmore of the Court. So I being intended to go to Rome to study with a famous musician named Luca Marenzio:
Marenzio's commendation at the beginning of Dowland's First Book of Songs

stepped to this Mr Skidmore the priest & asked him if he were an Englishman, & he told me yea: & whose son he was, & I telling him my name he was very glad to see me, so I told him I would go to Rome & desired his help for my safety, for said I, if they should mistake me there my fortune were hard, for I have been thrust off all good fortune because I am a Catholic at home. For I heard that her Majesty being spoke to for me, said I was a man a man to serve any prince in the world, but I was an obstinate papist. Whereunto he answered Mr Dowlande if it be not so make her words true. So in further talk we spake of priests, & I told him that I did not think it true that any priests (as we said in England) would kill the Queen or once go about to touch her finger, and said I whatsoever my religion be I will neither meddle nor make with any thing there done, so that they do not anything against the Queen. Whereunto he answered that l spake as a good subject to her Majesty, but said he in Rome you shall hear Englishmen your own countrymen speak most hardly of her and wholly seek to overthrow her & all England. And those be the Jesuits said he who are of the Spanish faction. Moreover said he we have many jars with them & withall wished to God the Queen were a Catholic, & said he, to defend my Country against the Spaniards I would come into England & bear a pike on my shoulders. Among our talk he told me that he had orders to attach divers English gentlemen, & that he had been 3 years [out of?] England, so I brought him to his lodging door, where he told me that there was 9 priests come from Rome to go for England. He came but the day before to Florence, do I think they came altogether, he told me that he would stay there in the town and study in an abbey called Sancta Maria Novella, & that he must be in for one month, and that  he would write letters of me to Rome, which I should receive very shortly, but I heard not of him in a month after, and then there came two friars to my lodging the one was an Englishman named Bailey, a Yorkshireman. The next day after my speech with Skidmore I dined with my Lord Gray and divers other gentlemen, whom I told of my speech with Skidmore giving them warning. Whereupon my Lord Gray went to Sienna, and the rest dispersed themselves. Moreover I told my Lord Gray howsoever I was for religion, if l did perceive anything in Rome that either touched her Majesty or the state of England I would give notice of it though it were the loss of my life, which he liked well & bade me keep that secret. This friar Bailey before named delivered me a letter which I have here sent your Honour, which letter I brake open before Mr. Josias Bodley,  & showed what was written in it to him & divers other, after this, this friar Bailey told me he had received letters from Rome to hasten me forward, & told me that my discontentment was known at Rome, & that I should have a large pension of the Pope, & that his Holiness & all the cardinals would make wonderful much of me, thereupon I told him of my wife and children how to get them to me, whereunto he told me that I should have acquaintance with such as should bring them over to me if she had any willingness or else they would lose their lives for there came those into England for such purposes, for quoth he Mr Skidmore brought out of England at his last being there 17 persons both men and women, for which the Bishop weeps when he sees him for joy. After my departure I called to mind our conference & got me by myself & wept heartily, to see my fortune so hard that I should become servant to the greatest enemy of my prince: country: wife: children: and friends: for want, & to make me like themselves. God he knoweth I never loved treason nor treachery nor never knew any, nor never heard any mass in England, which I find is great abuse of the people for on my soul I understand it not. Wherefore I have reformed myself to live according to her Majesty’s laws as I was born under her Highness, & that most humbly I do crave pardon, protesting if there were any ability in me, I would bed most ready to make amend. At Bologna I met with 2 men the one named Pierce an Irishman, the other named Dracot. They are gone both to Rome.


The Queen is looking pretty sanguine about the whole Philip of Spain thing in the Armada Portrait

In Venice I heard an Italian say, that he marveled that King Philip had never a good friend in England that with his dagger would dispatch the Queen’s Majesty, but said he, God suffers her, in the end to give her the greater overthrow. Right honourable this have I written that her Majesty may know the villainy of these most wicked priests and Jesuits, & to beware of them. I thank God I have both forsaken them and their religion which tendeth to nothing but destruction. Thus I beseech God night & day to bless and defend the Queen’s Majesty, & to confound all her enemies & to preserve your honour & all the rest of her Majesty's most honourable Privy Council. I think that Skidmore & the other priests are all in England for he stayed not at Florence as he said he would to me, & friar Bailey told me that he was gone into France to study the law. At Venice & all along as I came in Germany say that the King of Spain is making great preparation to come for England this next summer, where if it pleased your Honour to advise me by my poor wife I would most willingly lose my life against them. Most humbly beseeching your Honour to pardon my ill writing & worse inditing, & to think that I desire to serve my country & hope to hear of your good opinion of me. From Nurnberg this 10th of November 1595.

Your Honour’s most bounden
for ever
Jo: Doulande

John Dowland's letter to Sir Robert Sidney, from Diana Poulton's biography of John Dowland, currently and very sadly out of print.