Sunday, January 25, 2015

Early Music Festival, Week One

Week One of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival begins right on February 1, with the return of Cantigium.  This eight-voice chamber choir, lead by Scot Buzza, performed last year for the Festival opening, and it was one of the most talked-about events of the month.  This remarkable group will sing some of the oldest extant music we have, both chant and polyphony: songs of the medieval troubadours, and songs sung by the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land; music from Poland’s greatest Renaissance composer;  some of the first music composed in the New World, by Spanish missionaries to Peru, in Quechua, the language of the Incas. And they will finish their tour through time by arriving at the German Baroque and singing a Motet by Bach.  That’s right, a motet by Bach.  He didn’t write many of them, and they’re rarely performed.  Don’t miss your chance to hear this one.

On Monday night Feb 2 at 8:00, CCM faculty members Rod Stucky and Mary Stucky will present a recital of music for lute, baroque guitar, and voice. Composers represented will be Nicolas Vallet, lutenist extraordinaire and neighbor to Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck; the English composer and lutenist, Robert Johnson; and Spanish composers José Marín, a defrocked priest, and Francisco Guerau, one of the finest guitarists of his time.
Tuesday Feb 3 is Live at Lunch, at Christ Church Cathedral downtown.  This week features The Shakespeare Band, with lute, Renaissance guitar, viola da gamba and voice.  They will play music from the English Renaissance.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are hosting a series of events around town called Music of the Renaissance. A viol trio of Catacoustic’s Annalisa Pappano and this year’s two early music scholarship recipients Stephen Goist and Cole Guillien will play music of Senfl, Isaac, Gibbons, and others. Two of these   events take place this week:  on Feb 2 at 7:00 at the Symmes Township Branch, and on Feb 7 at 2:00 at the Deer Park Branch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Early Music Festival, Week Two

Week Two of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival will be full of surprises. This week is full of new stuff.

Sunday Feb 8 brings us to Terrace Park for our friends at the Bach Vespers.  The Cincinnati Camerata will be joining the Cincinnati Bach Ensemble to perform Bach’s Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, BWV 3. Oh God, how much heartache, is an Epiphany cantata.

Then that same night at 8pm we’ll move things over to the Northside Tavern for the annual Classical Revolution Early Music Edition. You never know what you’ll get, but groups have been lining up for the chance to play in the back room.

Ludwig Senfl
Tuesday Feb 10 we’ll be back at Christ Church Cathedral downtown for another tasty Live at Lunch around noontime.  This week we’ll hear from Consort in the Egg, a group that focuses on recorders and other winds, but embraces all music from the mid-Renaissance.  This performance will feature music of Ludwig Senfl and some of his contemporaries.

Cristobal de Morales
Wednesday Feb 11 offers a perfect remedy for your hump day. Get yourself over to Old St. Mary’s in Over-the-Rhine and enjoy a unique performance of the Missa Ave Maria by Cristóbal de Morales.  Perhaps the greatest Spanish composer of his time, c1500-1553, Morales composed only sacred music and was honored by the Vatican as the greatest church composer between Josquin and Palestrina. The entire Mass will be sung as written, a rarity in performance, by the Vicars Choral, an ensemble of eight men's voices. There will also be motets by Victoria and some Gregorian chant. If a cappella Renaissance polyphony sung in Cincinnati’s oldest church doesn’t get you through the week, you need to examine your lifestyle choices.

Saturday Feb 14 is Valentine’s Day, and we’ve got two ways to celebrate. First, at 2:00 in the afternoon, the Cincinnati Harper’s Robin will treat us to unexpected music on unfamiliar instruments.  An ensemble of lever harps makes for a sound evocative of the harp-loving days of the 13th century.  Look for music from across northern Europe from the earliest times.
And that evening we welcome the return of Cantantes Camarae.  The title of this concert is my personal favorite from this year’s Festival:  Sundrie Songs of a Lovely Nature.  Something we could all use more of, in my opinion.  The focus this year is on Love, a favorite topic for Renaissance tunesmiths.

Third Annual Cincinnati Early Music Festival

The Cincinnati Early Music Festival is poised for launch!
February will once again resound to the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. For the third straight year we have an impressive lineup of events large and small, with something for every interest.

The Festival kicks off February 1, with the return of Cantigium, the chamber choir whose concert last year was one of the most talked about of the month. They will perform some of the earliest surviving music we have, sacred and secular, and rumor has it that they will repeat some of the most popular music from last year. Don’t miss this exciting event.

From a strong beginning, the month unfolds with an emphasis on variety. Lute and baroque guitar, recorder, harp, viola da gamba, harpsichord and organ, all will be in play.
And lots and lots more singing!  Tiny groups, like
  • Cantantes Camarae, singing Renaissance love songs, 
  • Consort in the Egg with sacred German music, 
  • the Vicars Choral's performance of an entire Spanish Renaissance Mass at Old St Mary’s.
 And larger groups, like 
  • the popular concert of many choirs at St Peter in Chains, 
  • the Knox Choir’s beautiful rendition of Heinrich Schütz.

And then there’s opera. If you discovered last summer how much you enjoyed Baroque opera, here’s your chance to sample quite a bit more. UC-CCM is staging two operas this month, one with their graduate students and one with their undergrads:  Monteverdi’s masterpiece L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Handel’s Alcina. And Cincinnati Chamber Opera is tackling Handel’s Ariodante.
We will wrap up on Feb 28 with an outstanding concert by Catacoustic Consort, the Festival’s sponsor. Truly rare sacred music by Jean-Joseph de Mondonville, one of the greatest French composers of the 18th century. Toronto-based soprano Shannon Mercer will join harpsichord and pardessus for a candlelight concert you won’t forget.  

Full details of these events and more are available at

Light up your winter with music!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Year for Catacoustic

2015 will be a landmark year for Catacoustic Consort. This autumn we will celebrate the opening of our 15th season in Cincinnati, making Catacoustic one of the most enduring small music ensembles in the Queen City. The audiences for early music continue to grow, as people begin to realize the astonishing breadth of music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras.

Some very exciting music is being planned for this year, French in February, English in March. And not JUST from the Baroque and Renaissance -- in April we will present a concert of new music for the viola da gamba, showcasing an eclectic collection of contemporary composers, including Michael Edwards (of Electric Light Orchestra), Elvis Costello, and Tan Dun. The incomparable Michael Maniaci will join us for music that you simply will not hear performed elsewhere.

Catacoustic has also been invited to play at the University of Dayton, a concert of music written by and for nuns of the 17th century, and which we will repeat here in Cincinnati next fall. And in December we will present a Christmas concert, complete with sackbut ensemble. 

As proud as we are of our season and the music we bring you, our mission extends deeper into the community. This February will be the third year we present the Cincinnati Early Music Festival, which allows audiences to hear the efforts of students, amateurs, and smaller groups, all dedicated to early music. 2015 will also be our fifth year to award a scholarship for musicians pursuing their interests in early music.

This winter the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is hosting a series of free events called Music of the Renaissance, sponsored by the James R. Hunt Trust Fund of the Friends of the Public Library. Artistic director Annalisa Pappano, in her role as pre-professional mentor, will be playing with both of last year’s scholarship winners, Stephen Goist and Cole Guillien, music for three violas da gamba by Senfl, Isaac, Gibbons, and others. (These concerts will take place at the Delhi Township Branch, January 26, 7pm; the Symmes Township Branch, February 2, 7pm; the Deer Park Branch, February 7, 2pm; and the Wyoming Branch, February 16, 6pm.)

The new theorbo is on the workbench. The Kroger Community Rewards program is going full bore (have you linked your Kroger card to Catacoustic yet? We receive a portion of everything you spend at no extra cost to you!) Plans are being made for well into the future. Thank you, Cincinnati, for watching us grow.