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Notes from the Artistic Directors

2008-2009 Consort Season

The Folger Consort embarks on a cruise of the Mediterranean for the coming season, with stops at locations on the Middle Sea that produced a wealth of extraordinary music during the four hundred years from the Cypriot court to Vivaldi's Venice.

The Consort’s Mediterranean Season will commence with a delightful program of music from Italy circa 1500. At the court in Mantua, Isabella d’Este was the center of a circle of humanist poets and musicians who pursued not only northern polyphony but a native Italian style based on improvised poetry and melody, text declamation and lively rhythms. This style, known as frottola, will be the core of the program, with songs and instrumental pieces by Cara, Tromboncino and the Italophile northerners Josquin, Isaac and Martini. We’ll have the great soprano Emily van Evera, Renaissance viols, lute and Tom Zajac’s usual amazing array of instruments.

In December the scene shifts westward to Spain for a program of Christmas music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Our good friends of the Concord Ensemble return to sing, and our instrumental forces will include harp, organ, lute, vihuela, violin, cornetto and dulcian. There will be motets from the great Cathedrals by the masters of Spanish Renaissance choral music, including Morales, Victoria, and Guerrero, as well as popular villançicos(carols), both Renaissance and Baroque, with their lively and quintessentially Spanish rhythms. The instruments, or ‘ministriles’, will contribute ‘differencias,’ or virtuoso improvisations on bass lines and popular songs and dances.

For our traditional January concerts at the Washington National Cathedral, it is off to eighteenth-century Venice for an all-Vivaldi program of effervescent and sonorous choral and instrumental music. Violinist Robert Mealy will lead a crack baroque orchestra and will play two of the best-known and best-loved Vivaldi concerti for violin – the A minor concerto that all Suzuki students study, and Winter from the Four Seasons. Sopranos Rosa Lamoreaux and Ah Young Hong will be joined by the countertenor Roger Isaacs and the National Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys in performances of the Beatus Vir, Ostro picta, and the splendid Gloria.

In March, we continue on our journey to the island of Cyprus for the sophisticated music cultivated there during the fourteenth century at the French-speaking court. There are motets and chansons preserved in a Cypriot court manuscript that rival the gemlike beauty and complexity of any music composed in France at the time. We will balance this charming music for connoisseurs with the catchy and appealing thirteenth-century Cantigas de Santa Maria from the court of Alfonso Il Sabio in Castile. Soprano Ann Monoyios joins our medieval court ensemble – Robert Eisenstein, Christopher Kendall, Mary Springfels and Tom Zajac, playing fiddles, citoles, lutes, harp, bagpipes, flutes and percussion.

The Consort's final program celebrates a literary masterpiece from Spain that inspired centuries of music across Europe. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote was first published in 1605, and shortly thereafter the first English translation appeared. We'll be tilting toward later seventeenth and eighteenth-century music associated with this epochal comedy. Strings and harpsichord carry Telemann’s delightful Burlesque de Quixotte, with songs by Purcell and Eccles as well as popular broadside ballads from the London stage, all contained in Don Quixote plays by D’Urfey and Fielding. The music of these masters is performed with dramatic readings from Cervantes' great work.


Subscriptions are now on sale to Folger Consort's 2009/10 season of MUSIC CIRCA 1610. Visit www.folger.edu/consortsub or call 202.544.7077 to subscribe today!

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