Thursday, October 27, 2011

Choral Evensong with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

Choral Evensong with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge - YouTube

Haven't listened to this all the way through, but I've heard the Clare College Choir before and can safely predict it will be musically gorgeous. Best of all: it's a full hour, and you don't have to click from vid to vid to get the whole thing.

I'll come back with some info on composers, etc., if I can. From the YouTube page:

The Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge present Choral Evensong, September 13, 2010, at Duke University Chapel. Choir under the direction of Timothy Brown, Director of Music, Clare College.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Anonymous 4 News: "Secret Voices" CD Released

Anonymous 4 News

From their latest newsletter:
NEW RELEASE! Secret Voices: Chant & Polyphony from The Las Huelgas Codex, c. 1300

Secret Voices coverAnonymous 4's newest program is a return to the heart of their favorite century, and to a repertoire that proved to one and all that medieval women could, and did, sing the most complex polyphony in the Gothic era.

This varied repertoire of 13th-century polyphony and sacred Latin song was collected for a convent of noble and aristocratic women, who were clearly used to having their own way. In spite of a rule forbidding the singing of polyphony by the women of their order, these sophisticated ladies sang the most beautiful, advanced and demanding music from all over Europe in the 13th century.

There are elegant French motets here, like the Benedicamus domino setting Claustrum pudicicie/Virgo viget/FLOS FILIUS, the original text of which describes pastoral love in the springtime; and the hybrid 4-voice conductus-motet O Maria virgo/O Maria maris stella/[IN VERITATE]. There are virtuoso conductus, like Ave maris stella and Mater patris et filia, with unpredictable rhythms and lively hockets. A playful Benedicamus domino à 3 is written in rondellus fashion -- like a catch or round -- typical of 13th-century British polyphony. There are also heartfelt laments, like the monophonic song O monialis conscio, a planctus written on the death of a beloved member of the sisterhood; and elegant duos with intertwining lines, like the sequences Verbum bonum et suave and In virgulto gracie.

We also get a glimpse into the musical dedication of the convent in a unique "solfeggio" exercise, Fa Fa Mi / Ut Re Mi, for the sister's music lessons, where they practiced singing their hexachords under the watchful ear of the music mistress.

The repertoire of the Codex Las Huelgas manuscript provides the proof that Anonymous 4, far from singing "men's music," are following in the footsteps of their much-older sisters who had no difficulty (except from their male monastic superiors) in finding and performing the most virtuosic, avant-garde polyphonic music of their time. It's time now for Anonymous 4 to bring them to life again.


Visit the Secret Voices discography page to hear track samples, read the program notes and reviews, and purchase on

We'll be touring with the Secret Voices cd program, and with a version featuring master instrumentalists Shira Kammen and Peter Maund. The music from Secret Voices is also included in our program Sisters in Spirit. Check our concert listings to find a performance near you.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Iste Confessor Domini

Iste Confessor Domini (Confessor Bishop, Hymn) - YouTube

In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day began today at Vespers, here's a lovely version of Iste Confessor, sung by "the Choir of the Carmelite Priory, London." This Office hymn is dedicated to "confessors," and was originally written c. the 8th Century for St. Martin of Tours. The English words are below.

(The header reads "Confessor Bishop, Hymn," and I'm not sure exactly what difference there might be in the texts for Bishops vs. other "confessors." I don't see any, but then I'm not fluent in Latin, either; if anybody can point to something specifically Bishop-ish in this, please do, in the comments.)

This the Confessor of the Lord, whose triumph Now all the faithful celebrate, with gladness Erst on this feat-day merited to enter Into his glory.

Saintly and prudent, modest in behavior, Peaceful and sober, chaste was he, and lowly, While that life's vigor, coursing through his members, Quickened his being.

Sick ones of old time, to his tomb resorting, Sorely by ailments manifold afflicted, Oft-times have welcomed health and strength returning, At his petition.

Whence we in chorus gladly do him honor, Chanting his praises with devout affection, That in his merits we may have a portion, Now and forever.

Glory and virtue, honour and salvation, Be unto him that, sitting in the highest, Governeth all things, Lord and God Almighty, Trinity blessed.

Here's Giotto's "St. Francis preaching to the birds":

Anglican Chant XVI: Psalm 138 Westminster Abbey - YouTube

Psalm 138 Westminster Abbey - YouTube

"Psalm 138 sung by Westminster Abbey Choir at the visit of the Pope, September 2010." (Which composer? Wait for my sources to comment!)

From the Coverdale Psalter:
Psalm 138. Confitebor tibi
I WILL give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart : even before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
2. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name, because of thy loving-kindness and truth : for thou hast magnified thy Name and thy word above all things.
3. When I called upon thee, thou heardest me : and enduedst my soul with much strength.
4. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord : for they have heard the words of thy mouth.
5. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord : that great is the glory of the Lord.
6. For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly : as for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off.
7. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me : thou shalt stretch forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
8. The lord shall make good his loving-kindness toward me : yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands.

Gorgeous! HT Sed Angli.


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