Monday, February 17, 2014

Cincinnati Early Music Festival Week Four

This final week of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival is truly an embarrassment of riches.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to suggest that you attend them all.

William Byrd
Cantantes Camarae is a chamber choir devoted mostly, though not exclusively, to early music.  They will be performing in Pleasant Ridge, in a program of John Bennet, John Blow, Henry Purcell, Thomas Ravenscroft, William Byrd, and Johann Hermann Schein —so, lots of English music, with a little German thrown in.  This will be an intimate event in a lovely venue.

Friday, Feb 21, 7:00pm, All Saints Episcopal, Pleasant Ridge, free will offering accepted.

Thomas Tallis
For a bigger choral experience, Sunday afternoon is not to be missed.  A gathering of choirs from all walks—Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, the Concert Choir and Edgecliff Ensemble from Xavier University, the Cathedral Choir of Saint Peter in Chains, and Collegium Cincinnati—will lift up their voices together.  Each group has chosen from the vast repertoire of 750 years of early music, so the music will range from the anonymity of the Middle Ages to JS Bach.  And it gets even better when they sing together, two works rarely performed because they call for so many independent parts.  Michael Pretorius’ Jubilate Deo was written for three choirs.  And Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium was written for 40 parts.  As you can imagine, these are not things you can hear performed live every day.

Sunday Feb 23, 3:00pm, Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral, downtown, freewill offering accepted.

Then the Festival’s hosts, the Catacoustic Consort, will perform at last.  Catacoustic presented the wonderful Jory Vinikour concert earlier in the month, and we did get to hear Annalisa play, but this is a proper Catacoustic concert:  candlelight, lusciously Baroque music, a large consort including voice and a 14-string lirone.  Only one place you can get all that, my friends.

Saturday, March 1, 7:30pm, St. Thomas Episcopal, Terrace Park, tickets $25, $10 for students with ID. Children under 12 free.

And that brings us to the end.  The final concert of this year’s Festival.  

Imagine you live in, say, Vienna.  You attend a concert with full Baroque orchestra, an exquisite organ, two choirs.  You hear music of Venice which has just been re-discovered in forgotten archives and locked libraries, and which is being performed for the first time in 300 years.  The music is extraordinary—Passion plays written for all-women’s choirs, Masses experimental in both their composition and their expression of the liturgy, a piece composed to be performed only on one specific day in 1717.  A nationally-known expert will present the background stories to go along with the music.  Even in Vienna, this kind of thing doesn’t come along every day. 

 But wait!  You don’t live in Vienna!  Lucky you.  Because the concert I just described isn’t taking place there.  It’s taking place in Cincinnati.  The music that hasn’t been performed in 300 years?  It’s we who will be the first to hear it.  Not the Viennese.  Not New Yorkers.  Not Parisians.  You and I.  Other differences between the Austrian pretender and the real concert?  In Vienna you can probably get away with wearing real furs.  In Cincinnati, maybe not.  In Vienna you might arrive at the venue by streetcar.  In Cincinnati . . .  there’s ample parking.  In Vienna such a concert will cost at least 50.  In Cincinnati it is free and open to the public.  In Vienna there is Sachertorte.  

But forget Vienna!  Perhaps in your fantasy you live in Milan, or St. Petersburg, or Tokyo.  But if your fantasy is to attend possibly the most interesting early music concert happening anywhere in the world on this day, maybe you better thank your lucky stars you live in Cincinnati.

Sunday, March 2, 3:00pm, St Timothy’s Episcopal, Anderson Township, free.

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