Monday, November 17, 2014

Eyes Only for Love

By the turn of the 17th century, around 1590-1610, the Italian Renaissance had been going strong for over a century. Art, architecture, literature, and music had grown mature and confident. Men were rich, institutions were well-established, and even girls got the occasional education. The old ways of doing things were starting to feel confining and outmoded. Questions were being asked.  

Today we call this period the beginning of the Baroque era. Geniuses like Monteverdi were experimenting with new musical forms, new combinations of instruments, and new subject matter. In fact, they were redefining what music was for. Music was assigned a new mission:  to tell a story, and to express the emotions of that story and evoke those emotions in the audience. 

Catacoustic’s next concert will visit this dynamic time in Italy. Tenor Sumner Thompson returns to town for an evening of passionate love songs that tell stories and express emotions with abandon.

1597 saw the birth of the ultimate story-telling music, opera. And when full-scale opera was just too much, another new form came to life, monody.  Monody is just a fancy word for what Bob Dylan does:  a solo singer, instrumental back-up, a story to tell.  But nobody did it like those Italians did it 400 years ago.

We’ll hear music of Sigismondo D’India, the Sicilian nobleman considered second only to Monteverdi in invention.  His passionate love songs illustrate the lover’s anguish with dissonances irregularly resolved; in chromatic, keening lines that delay their cadences until all the musical ends can be tied together; with joy for the drama of it all. And from touchy, troubled Giulio Caccini, whose book Le nuove musiche became the bible on the art of captivating and moving an audience.

The theorbo will also be featured.  It was a brand new instrument at this time, developed precisely for this new wave of operatic and semi-operatic story-telling.  Composers seized upon it at once—rarely has an instrument realized its potential so early in its life.  Bellerofonte Castaldi and Giovanni Kapsberger were two of the greatest of these, and we welcome back the great theorbist Daniel Swenberg to play this exquisite music. The combination of theorbo with Baroque harp, viol, and lirone is the classic sound of the era, and we'll revel in it tonight.

Since this concert will be of unusually high interest to opera lovers, we are making a special offer.  The time of the concert conflicts with Cincinnati Opera’s gala event.  We are therefore opening the dress rehearsal for Catacoustic’s concert with Sumner Thompson to supporters, so they can attend both.  Contact us at for more details.

 November 22, 2014, 7:30pm
Church of the Advent, Walnut Hills
2366 Kemper Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45206
There is ample street parking available, as well as available parking in the US Post Office lot just south of the church on Kemper.

 Individual tickets are $25 general, $10 student. Children 12 and under are always free. Tickets are available at the door, in advance by calling 513.772.3242, or at