A page from the Eton Choirbook representing a motet by composer John Browne, whose reationship with the fabled school started as a choirboy in the 1460s.
There was an in-joke among English choristers in the late 15th century: “The French sing, Italians shake, Germans wail and the Enlish rejoice” (Galli cantant, Italiae capriant, Germani ululant, Anglici jublilant, in the original Latin).
The national slurs are silly, of course, but it’s pretty much impossible not to reach a state of bliss after listening to a new album featuring seven pieces chosen by English a capella choir Tonus Peregrinus from the Eton Choirbook, one of the rare sources of English sacred music from the closing decades of the 1400s. Continue reading →
Susan Graham starred in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Iphigénie en Tauride, desolately staged by expat Torontonian Robert Carsen.
Grabbing the heart with text and music takes many forms. This weekend, we have a chance to sample opera reduced to its essence, and two very operatic ways of crafting oratorio and cantata.
The first comes via CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, which broadcasts the Canadian Opera Company’s critically praised production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s 1779 masterpiece, Iphigénie en Tauride, featuring American mezzo Susan Graham in the title role. Continue reading →
Brett Polegato sings during the Elora Festival performance of Elijah on Friday night (Bill Longshaw photo).
In a world where conductors flit about from podium to podium, the Elora Festival’s Noel Edison is proof of the power of connecting one person to a community, allowing everything and everyone — including the audience — to grow in the process.
At the opening of the 33rd season of the annual Festival, Edison led a remarkable performance of Elijah, the 1846 oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn that tells the story of the Biblical prophet in two-and-a-half hours of powerful, moving, beautifully layered choruses and airs. Continue reading →
THE BRABANT ENSEMBLE Missa tu es Petrus (Hyperion)
There’s an alchemical reaction that takes place when Renaissance polyphony is sung well: the layers of voices (Thomas Tallis made it up to 40 in 1570) set up rhythmic vibrations — some sympathetic, some not — that open up trap doors to mystical depths. Continue reading →