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Artek 2016-2017 Season

Ann L. Wilson Memorial Concert
GEMS OF RENAISSANCE POLYPHONY

200 Angels worshipping smFriday, June 2, 2017 at 7 pm
Immanuel Lutheran Church, 122 East 88th St.

ARTEK presents a special final concert this season featuring masterpieces of two masters of the 16th and early 17th century: Prophetiae Sibyllarum by Orlande de Lassus (1530/32-1594) and excerpts from Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares by John Dowland (1563-1626).

The Prophetiae Sibyllarum cycle of motets is one of Lassus’s most distinctive works, renowned for its extreme chromaticism; and its compositional complexity and virtuosity is one of the reasons Orlande was known in his own time as Princeps Musicorum, [Prince of Musicians] and as Le Divin Orlande [The Divine Orlande]. The set is a cycle of 12 motets prefaced by an introductory motet, set to ancient prophecies of the Sibylls, which in the 16th century were thought to foreshadow the coming of Christ.

The pieces are rarely performed because of technical difficulties that are only now with recent research coming to be understood. Chief among these are the clefs in which they are written. Since the late 1980s scholars have known that the use of “high clefs”, or chiavette, signal a different pitch level a fourth lower than the normally understood one. However, adoption of this extremely well-documented principle has been slow even amongst leading period instrument groups; recent performances of the Monteverdi Vespers even in 2017 still resist the clear indication for the required low pitch level in several movements. The Prophetiae Sibyllarum not only sets four of the 12 motets in high clefs, but it also sets 2 motets in the very rarely encountered low clefs which likewise imply an upward transposing pitch level. No modern scores exist that contain the proper transpositions for today’s singers, who do not read easily up or down a fourth. This means that although the piece was written in four part books, modern performances have been unable to use the same four singers or choir sections throughout the work. An appropriate score has been created for this performance and ARTEK’s four solo singers, supported by viols as was typical in Renaissance sacred music, will perform the entire cycle. Another difficulty is the certain use of quarter-comma meantone. Only in recent years have a few period instrument ensembles such as ARTEK achieved the goal of singing with pure thirds and sixths in Renaissance music, as specified by the 16th-century theorist Zarlino. However, Lassus’s extreme chromaticism suffers greatly without the appropriate tuning system.

The program will also contain four movements from Dowland’s Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares. The first three, Lachrimae Gementes [Sighing Tears], Lachrimae Coactae [Forced Tears], and Lachrimae Verae [True Tears] performed by the ARTEK viol consort; and Lachrimae Antiquae [Old Tears] perfomed on solo organ in the intabulation attributed to Heinrich Scheidemann.

The performance is a memorial concert for Ann L. Wilson, member of the ARTEK Board of Directors until her passing in 2015. All proceeds will benefit the Immanuel Lutheran Church organ fund.
ARTEK June 2017 collage square
ARTEK singers: Sarah Chalfy, soprano; Ryland Angel, countertenor; Michael Steinberger, tenor; and Peter Becker, bass-baritone

ARTEK viol consort: Rosamund Morley, soprano viol; Daniel McCarthy, tenor viol; Michael Rigsby, tenor viol; Arnie Tanimoto, bass viol; and Motomi Igarashi, bass viol and violone

ARTEK director Gwendolyn Toth will lead the performance and play organ

General Admission
all seats $25

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GEMS is a non-profit corporation that supports and promotes the artists and organizations in New York devoted to early music— the music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical periods.