Gregorian Singers

An Exciting Season of Old and New Music

Our 2016-17 Season

The Gregorian Singers' 2016-17 season will be both exciting and unusual, and we hope you'll help us with the resources we need to present some wonderful old and new music.  

Advent Procession: We begin our season with our annual Advent Procession, on Sunday, November 27, a celebration of music and ritual to welcome the Christmas season. We will perform Audivi vocem by John Taverner, O Sapientia by the Elizabethan composer Robert Ramsey, Hugo Distler's exciting motet Wachet auf I Beheld Her and O Clavis David by Healey Willan, and Father Abraham by Monte Mason, along with plainchant and hymns. Advent Procession has been an important part of each of our seasons for 39 years, and we will continue this tradition in a new location, Grace University Lutheran Church.

A Taste of Burgundy: On March 17 and 19, 2017, we plan to present two performances of great music of the early Renaissance integrated with a presentation of visual art of the period. During the early fifteenth century, Burgundy, consisting of what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of northern France, had become the main center of the music of the developing Renaissance; the composers later became known as the Burgundian School. The fourteen-voice Gregorian Singers, accompanied by period instruments, will perform works by important composers of this period: Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), Gilles Binchois (1400-1460), John Dunstable (1390-1453), Johannes Ockeghem (1425-1497), and Josquin des Prez (1455-1521). Along with this music, we will present descriptions and projections of the visual art of these composers’ contemporaries, including the painters Jan van Eyck, Matthias Grunewald and Albrecht Dürer. 

Music of the early Renaissance is rarely performed; this is one reason we are presenting these concerts. If one were to ask why audiences would be interested in hearing 600 year-old music, one might also ask why people want to see 600 year-old paintings – and interestingly, they do. Indeed, the visual art of this period has been greatly enjoyed and treasured since its creation; however, the music of this period is seldom performed. This may be attributed, to some extent, to its relative difficulty and the shortage of good-quality modern scores, but the music is complex, fascinating, beautiful, and deserves to be heard. We also believe that music does not exist in a vacuum, separate from other arts, and can best be appreciated in the context of its time and contemporary arts. An integral part of these performances, therefore, will be the discussion of paintings of the period such as the famous Ghent Altarpiece (The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) by Jan van Eyck (1395-1441) and the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516). The treatment by these artists of their respective arts clearly represents a pivotal point of transition from the styles of the Middle Ages to those of the Renaissance.

The artistic aspects of the project will be managed and directed by Founding Artistic Director Monte Mason with the assistance of Phillip Rukavina, who will coordinate the instrumental performances. The instrumentalists will include Ginna Watson, harp and vielle; Julie Elhard, bass gamba; Garrett Lahr, sackbut; Bruce Jacobs, portative organ; and Phillip Rukavina and Tom Walker, lutes. We plan to integrate the musical and visual with the help of an art historian as a consultant and participant in workshops and pre-concert lectures, and by projecting images of early Renaissance paintings as described above during the performance. This integration of early music and art will be a unique experience that will produce a more holistic and accessible experience of the works. 

New Music for Voices: Finally, In the spring of 2017, we will venture into the realm of very new music. Members of the 113 Composers Collective, Dr. Joey Crane, Michael Duffy,Benjamin Klein, Dr. Sam Krahn, Dr. Joshua Musikantow, Dr. Tiffany Skidmore and selected winners of this year’s 113 Call for Scores will compose original works for The Gregorian Singers. These composers will work directly with the singers, and we will present performances of these new works at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. These concerts will be supplemented with two special community workshops for students, senior citizens, and other members of the general public at the University of Minnesota’s Lloyd Ultan Hall and Graham Place Senior Center in Saint Paul. These workshops will include discussions of the ways in which early music - like that performed in A Taste of Burgundy - is surprisingly similar to that os&n

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