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by Daniel Hathaway

Blue-Heron-Choir

Scott Metcalfe will bring 14 singers from his Blue Heron Renaissance Choir in Boston to the Helen D. Schubert Concert Series at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland on Friday evening, April 11 at 7:30 pm to sing music associated with Canterbury Cathedral in the last decade before the English Reformation.

The program will include an elaborate plainchant Kyrie (Deus creator omnium), a five-part mass by Robert Jones (Missa Spes nostra), and a votive antiphon by Robert Hunt (Stabat mater). “I’m quite sure that none of these pieces have ever been sung in Cleveland before,” Metcalfe said in a recent phone conversation.

The repertory is taken from the Peterhouse partbooks, a set of manuscript scores each containing music for a single voice part, which were probably copied around 1540 at Magdalen College, Oxford, for use at Canterbury Cathedral and now held at Peterhouse at Cambridge University.

They help fill in our knowledge of what was being sung in important English choral establishments between Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries (1536-1541) and the Protestant movement that led to huge changes in musical styles by the end of that decade — after the Church of England cut its ties to Rome. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hautzinger

Les-Delices-3The salons of eighteenth century Paris sparkled with witty repartee, political argument, fashionable taste-making, and philosophical deliberation. The rigid hierarchy of the French court disappeared as ranks and genders mingled in exquisite conversation. On Saturday, February 1 at 8:00 pm at Tregoning & Co. Gallery in Cleveland and on Sunday, February 2 at 4:00 pm in Herr Chapel at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, French Baroque specialists Les Délices will recreate that environment with their program Conversations Galantes.

Conversations galantes is the idea of intellectual exchange that happens within the salon,” oboist and Les Délices director Debra Nagy said during a recent telephone conversation. “We’re featuring some of the earliest French quartet repertory, which is based on that idea of conversation, where all the voices are equal and contribute to what’s happening melodically.”

The title of the program comes from a 1743 collection of quartets by Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, some of which will be performed. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

Les-Delices2As I write this, Ohio seems to be stuck in an endless winter of discontent. But the ungiving weather was more than a little mollified by the warm elegance and sprightly eccentricity of this weekend’s seasonal program by Les Délices. The group, founded and directed by baroque oboist Debra Nagy, is now completing its fourth season, and specializes in the music of the French Baroque.

The centerpiece of the program was a substantial cantata titled L’Hyver (Winter), one of a cycle of four cantatas on the seasons by the early-18th-century composer Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. With appropriate Baroque word-painting, Boismortier depicts winter’s horrors—bare trees, mountain storms, and frost-stricken buds—then shifts to winter’s pleasures—dances, feasts, and plays. Winter’s destructive fury turns out to be a foil to the delights of a Parisian salon, well heated and well stocked with wine and music.

The presiding muse of those delights was the masterful soprano Clara Rottsolk, who was featured on Les Délices’ recent CD, Myths and Allegories. Read the rest of this entry »

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