Monday, March 16, 2015

Mass for St. Patrick - Monteverdi & Grandi

The University of St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

In honour of St Patrick

Monday, March 16th, 2015
St Basil’s Church

Introit: Sonata Decima Quinta à 4     Dario Castello (c.1590–c.1658)
Messa da Cappella à Quattro Voci, Kyrie  Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)
Gloria in excelsis         Monteverdi
Gradual: Sonata Ottava a Due Violini  Giovanni Battista Fontana (c.1580–c.1630)                 
Sequence: Justus germinabit   Alessandro Grandi (1586–1630)
Hallie Fishel, Soprano                 
Credo                  Monteverdi
1.     Credo in unum Deum        
2.     Crucifixus        
Hallie Fishel, Soprano, Christopher Mayell & Christopher Jääskeläinen, Tenors,
Christian McConnell, Bass
3.     Et resurrexit         
Hallie Fishel & Mikhai Vergara, Sopranos
4.     Et iterum         
Christopher Mayell & Christopher Jääskeläinen, Tenors, Christian McConnell, Bass
5.     Et in Spiritum Sanctum        
Offertorium: Ecce sacerdos magnus   Grandi
Hallie Fishel, Soprano
Sanctus                  Monteverdi
Elevation motet: Memoriam fecit mirabilium    Grandi
Hallie Fishel, Soprano
Benedictus                  Monteverdi
Passacalio from Op. 22    Biagio Marini (1594–1663)
Agnus Dei        Monteverdi

Today is the eve of the feast of St. Patrick. Devotion to Patrick, “Apostle of Ireland,” has never been confined to Irish shores. By the seventh century, devotion had spread throughout France, Italy, and Germany and it has flourished ever since. The early modern period saw renewed interest in Patrick’s life and writings. The standard medieval life was published in English translation in 1625 (without the infancy miracles and cursing incidents!). The first edition of Patrick’s letters was published in 1656. The feast of St Patrick was included in the Roman breviary in 1631and in the Roman calendar of 1632.
In 17th-century Northern Italy, it was quite normal on feast days for the Mass to be celebrated with suitable motets replacing the usual chanted antiphons. Our concert includes two such motets, Justus germinabit and Ecce sacerdos magnus. A third motet, Memoriam fecit mirabilium, draws on several texts from the Feast of Corpus Christi. Placed between the Sanctus and Benedictus, it serves as an Elevation motet. It was also common for instrumental sonatas to be played during the liturgy—often in a chromatic style, to depict the mystery of the change of the substance of the bread and wine. During these substitutions, the priest would quietly say the text of the suppressed parts of the Proper of the Mass, at least theoretically.
A congregation lucky enough to attend a big North Italian church in the early 17th century would have an hour’s worth of concertato music (music “for the consort” of instruments and solo voices). Indeed, by the 18th century, lucky parishioners may have heard a entire violin concerto in place of the post-communion prayer. But this was far from being merely a “concert”: in the words of the governors of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo in 1630, the intention was to “draw the people in and lift them up to devotion.”
Monteverdi’s Messa da Cappella à Quattro Voci was published in his Selva Morale e Spirituale of 1641, a collection that also contains vespers psalms, office hymns, motets, and even a couple of Italian madrigals on spiritual subjects—most in the new Baroque style with and without instruments. The Mass, by contrast, is in the stile antico, the old style: Monteverdi was keen to demonstrate that, while he was a composer in the forefront of the avant-garde, he was still capable of writing glorious music in the tradition of Palestrina. The Mass is marked “da capella,” which we usually take to mean unaccompanied. However, Monteverdi provides a figured bass part in the continuo part-book, and organ accompaniment to da capella choral music seems to have been common. In the middle of the Credo, Monteverdi directs: “Here you can sing the concertato Crucifixus/Et resurrexit/Et Iterum if you please,” and he provides alternative settings of those texts for one singer on a part, with and without instruments. Thus the Credo setting is both ancient and modern.
All three soprano motets are by Alessandro Grandi. Grandi came to Venice in 1617 to sing under Monteverdi. By 1620 he was Monteverdi’s vice maestro di capella. In 1627 he took a position as maestro di capella at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo. Tragically, soon after, he and his family were victims of an outbreak of the plague; Grandi died in his mid-40s. Dario Castello worked at St. Mark’s throughout the first decades of the 17th century and boasts on the title page of his prints that held the position of Capo di Compagnia de Instrumenti. Giovanni Battista Fontana worked in Rome and Padua, but his sonatas were printed by his son in Venice in 1641. Biagio Marini was Europe’s top violinist when he worked briefly at St. Mark’s in Venice, in recognition of which he received a singer’s salary of 60 ducats a year, rather than a violinist’s mere 15 ducats (or perhaps he sang as well). But even this was not enough to retain his services: he was soon tempted away to Northern Europe by deep-pocketed German aristocrats

Kyrie eleison
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Gloria in exclesis Deo
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Justus germinabit
The righteous shall grow as the lily, and flourish forever before the Lord.
This is he who knew righteousness, and saw great wonders, and made his prayer unto the Most High, and he is numbered among the saints.
He loved not his life in the world and attained unto the kingdom of heaven.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried.
Et resurrexit
He rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Et iterum
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Ecce sacerdos magnus
Behold a great priest, Patrick, who in his days was pleasing to God, and was found just. In the time of wrath he was made a reconciliation. None was found like unto him, who kept the law of the Most High.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Memoriam fecit mirabilium
He has remembered his wonderful works; being a merciful and gracious Lord, he has given food to those who fear him.
He fed us with the finest wheat: and with honey out of the rock he satisfied us.
This is the bread which has come down from heaven; who eats this bread will live forever.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. O saving Victim, who open wide the gate of heaven; our foes press hard on every side: give us strength, bestow your aid.
O sacred banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory to us is given.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Agnus Dei
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

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 ten years, in 2012 MIO became Ensemble in Residence at St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. MIO have concertized across North America, and have performed to scholarly and general audiences, lecturing regularly at universities and museums, for the Shakespeare Society of America, the Renaissance Society of America, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies, Grinnell College, the Kingston Opera Guild, and the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Universities of Alberta, Toronto, California at San Diego, Syracuse, Trent, and York. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.

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. He 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 in a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology by Indiana University Press and recently collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream.

St Michael’s Schola Cantorum is an auditioned ensemble drawn from staff, faculty, alumni/ae, students, and friends of USMC, and members of St Basil’s parish choir. We sing three concerts per year, at Michaelmas, and during Advent, and Lent. Michael O’Connor is the founding Director of St Michael’s Schola Cantorum. He teaches in the college programs at St Michael’s and also directs the St Mike’s Singing Club. His academic scholarship and practical music-making overlap in the theory and practice of liturgical music.

The Musicians In Ordinary
Christopher Verrette
Patricia Ahern
Emily Eng
Laura Jones
Borys Medicky
John Edwards

St Michael’s Schola Cantorum
Kara Dymond
Laurel-Ann Finn
Hallie Fishel
Barbara North
Annemarie Sherlock
Emily Sherlock
Mikhai Vergara
Hope Aletheia Waterman
Irene Chan
Cindy Dymond
Irene Gaspar
Ana Iorgulescu
Christopher Jääskeläinen*
Mekhriban Mamedova
Paula Owalabi
Mark Gamez
Andrew Helmers
Reid Locklin
Antonio Manco
Christopher Mayell
Michael Pirri
Robert Allair
Eric Charron
Scott Hoornaert
Christian McConnell
Paul McGrath
Eli White
Rehearsal Pianist
Mekhriban Mamedova

Friday, March 6, 2015

John Donne on Love & Death
Mar. 7, 2015, 8PM

Heliconian Hall, Toronto

John Donne on Love & Death
An Epithalamion, or Mariage Song on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines Day         John Donne (1572-1631)
Come away, come sweet love                    John Dowland (1563-1626)
The Lady Elyza: her masque                    Robert Johnson (c1583-c1634)

When Laura smiles                             Philip Rosseter (1567-1623)
Solus cum Sola                                  Dowland

Sweet stay awhile                                  Dowland
Delyght Pavan                                    John Johnson (c1545-94)

Deare, if you change                            Dowland
Delyght Gallyard                                 Johnson

Cleare or cloudie                               Dowland
Nowe to bed                                    Anon.

Time stands still                                Dowland
My Hart is Surely Sett                        Anon.

Faine would I wed                             Campion
Greensleeves                                 Anon./Francis Cutting (c1550-1596)
There is a Garden in her face          Robert Jones (1577-1617)


A nocturnall upon S. Lucies Day, Being the shortest day Donne                                                    
Mourne, mourne                             Dowland
Countesse of Bedfords Galliard Henry Porter (1549-aft. 1605)                 

In darknesse let me dwell             Dowland
Pavana Ploravit                          Anthony Holborne (c1545-1602)

Greefe keep within                     John Danyel (1564-c1626)
A Doomp                                  E.E.?

Drop not myne eyes                   Danyel
Dump Philli                               Phillip van Wilder? (c1500-53)
Have all our passions                   Danyel

Guest Artist
Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. Well known for his scholarship and public lectures in the history of the English Language, he has also published widely on medieval and Renaissance English Literature, poetry, and Children's Literature. His books have won such awards as the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. His most recent book is Prospero's Son, a memoir published by the University of Chicago Press in 2013. He is currently working on music, myth, and lyric poetry in Shakespeare's last plays.


‘I may be uninspiring, but I’ll be damned if I’m alien!’ British King George V is supposed to have said in response to H.G. Wells’s criticism of the royal lack of charisma and excess of Germanness at the onset of World War I (‘ alien and uninspiring court…’ said Wells). The charisma problem was all George’s own, but we can pinpoint the source of the latter.

The first ‘British’ king, James VI of Scotland, inherited the English Tudor crown and soon set about marrying off his children (an option not available, obviously, to the Virgin Queen Elizabeth) to various continental dynasties to cement his ‘prince of peace’ policy. James’s daughter, also Elizabeth, was matched with various princes, but public opinion, and particularly that of her brother Henry, Prince of Wales, settled on Frederick, Elector Palatine, to whom she was married on St. Valentine’s Day, 1613. Frederick and Elizabeth’s grandson of the House of Hanover came to the British throne, not speaking a word of English, as George I. His great-great-granddaughter Victoria still spoke German around the house but eventually public opinion again, in World War I, forced George V to adopt the last name Windsor and lose the German sounding ‘House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’ handle. 

The official commemorative poem of the 1613 Royal Wedding was by John Donne, which you hear tonight read in the pronunciation of the time. Donne and Campion, whose texts are heard here set by Jones (There is a Garden), Rosseter (When Laura Smiles) and himself as well, seem to have competed as the official court mouthpieces. Between the verses of Donne’s wedding poem we sing some love songs of the period untouched by the cruel disdain of the harsh mistresses that breaks the hearts of so many poets and songwriters in that age of melancholy, along with some lute pieces the titles of which might allude to the delights of new love. The first half of this concert may be the least miserable set of songs it is possible to compile from Jacobean songbooks, especially with so many drawn from Dowland, the official composer of Jacobethan melancholy.

The Lady Elyza: her masque appears to be a dance taken from one of the entertainments surrounding the wedding. These shows may have included all or components of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (or perhaps components of a wedding masque were interpolated into the play; it’s not clear). Settings of Ariel’s songs by Robert Johnson survive.  Solus cum Sola (perhaps best translated as ‘He and She Alone Together’) and Delyght are pavans, slow duple time dances which, it has been suggested, survive in a very dumbed down form as the wedding march. The Delyght Gallyard is the melodic and harmonic material of the pavan crammed into the gay, triple time dance most popular at the time. (John Johnson is the father of Robert, the composer of the masque dance and Shakespeare’s troupe.) The famous Greensleeves was, for the Jacobeans, the chord progression, not the tune, and Campion’s Faine would I wed uses that ‘ground bass’ as well as the lute pieces.

Historically-informed pronunciation is the kind of thing that we could spend all night wrestling, wrangling and arguing about, and still never know what the words of speech and song really sounded like, in which respect it is like right hand lute technique. But by examining poetry, song, and prose – looking for rhyming schemes, how sentences scan, and the spellings of the words themselves – we can begin to gather some general ideas about how English in the period from which we are performing tonight might well have sounded in the listener's ear(e). For example, what we have come to regard as ‘sight rhymes’ actually were not such at the time. The words ‘beare’ and ‘eare’ in the poem above really were pronounced with the same vowel sound.  Furthermore, variations in spelling, and thus pronunciation, from song to song and from poet to poet, suggest that language was profoundly influenced by factors such as region and social status. 

It has been suggested Donne’s A nocturnall upon S. Lucies Day, Being the shortest day was penned while Lucy Russell, the Countess of Bedford was very ill, so that he could have a carefully wrought tombeau ready if she did succumb. But even if it was not, she would still cast a very long shadow over our concert this evening. Lucy surrounded herself with artists working in the melancholy milieu we so associate with Elizabethan and Jacobean literature and music: Donne, Samuel Danyel (brother of this evening’s composer John) and of course, John Dowland. A poem on Lucie Bedford (look down the first letter of each line) and Dowland’s lute  from his Second Book of Songs is on the previous page. Mourne, mourne is one of the first five songs in the book, all of which make Songs of Leonard Cohen sound like Pharrell Williams’s Happy. Did Lucy choose to patronize artists working with darkness and melancholy or were these artists, and their monuments of the melancholy movement, made to measure for Lucy’s tastes?

And very carefully and densely wrought Donne’s poem is too. It claims that it is being written on the feast day of St. Lucy, which, before a calendar adjustment, was the shortest day of the year. Donne aludes to alchemy, medical theory, chemistry and astrology in this poem. (Capricorn, the goat of the last verse, is in conjunction with the sun at that time of the year.) In the second verse of Deare, if you change (from Dowland’s First Book) the anonymous poet enumerates corruptions that will come to the four incorruptible elements (air, water, fire and earth). In the Nocturnall Donne uses this ‘science’, and especially the water of tears and the cold, dry earth to demonstrate the special nothingness he has become since his beloved’s death. Earth corresponds to the melancholy humour.

The Danyel songs presented this evening are a trilogy from his songbook of 1606, titled Mrs M E her funeral tears for the death of her husband. The sorrowful Mrs. M.E. has not been identified, but the poet (Samuel Danyel? John himself?) has her wondering whether, if tears can be present at joyful situations and those merely a bit sad, shouldn’t there be more now?

In January, in our series at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, we presented a concert including the ‘passionate pavans’ of Dowland’s Lachrimæ or seaven teares for violins and regular comers to MIO concerts will have heard us perform Dowland’s Flow my teares. These pavans all begin with the four-note descending scale which became a musical emblem of melancholy and with which Holborne begins his Pavana Ploravit (i.e. ‘Weeping Pavan’).

In a scene from Romeo and Juliet, Peter the servant  importunes the musicians after the discovery of the supposed death of Juliet: ‘O, musicians, …play me some merry dump, to comfort me.’ The Dump was a type of commemorative piece often based on a two-note ground bass such as those presented here. In an earlier, much shorter, version Dump Phili is called Arthurs Dumpe and it is possible that it began as a ‘Tombeau’ for Arthur Dewes by his colleague Philip van Wilder. Both were lutenists to Henry VIII but the later version has some more modern sounding variations. Perhaps later lutenists added their own divisions on the ground bass as it passed from manuscript to manuscript. Our other dump has ‘A doomp E.E.’ written at the end of it. Perhaps E.E. was the composer, perhaps the dedicatee.