Chalice Consort presents: "By The Waters of Babylon"
- Chalice Consort welcomes our guest director, Davitt Moroney.
In 2005 Davitt rediscovered Alessandro Striggio's long-lost Mass in 40 and 60
Parts, dating from 1565-66; he conducted the first modern performance of this
massive work at London's Royal Albert Hall in July 2007 and conducted two
further performances at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in June 2008. He has
made over sixty commercial CDs, especially of music by Bach, Byrd, and various
members of the Couperin family. Among his most substantial recordings are
William Byrd's complete keyboard works (127 pieces, on seven CDs, using six
instruments, for Hyperion), as well as the complete harpsichord and organ music
of Louis Couperin (over 200 pieces, on seven CDs, using four historic
instruments). His recent recordings include: the complete harpsichord works of
Louis Marchand and Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (Plectra, 2007), a CD that includes
Nicolas Lebègue's Les Cloches; a two-CD album of pieces from "The Borel
Manuscript" (Plectra, 2008), comprising pieces from a recently discovered
manuscript of French harpsichord music acquired in 2004 by UC Berkeley's
Hargrove Music Library; and the first of a 10-CD series devoted to the complete
harpsichord works of François Couperin (234 pieces).
"By the Waters of Babylon" is a provocative program of choral pieces by the
greatest English composer of the late Renaissance, William Byrd (c.1540-1623).
Although Byrd continued writing for the Protestant Anglican Church as part of
his official court functions as a Gentleman of Queen Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal,
he remained a Roman Catholic in private, at a time when this personal choice was
becoming increasingly dangerous.
These works illustrate with beautiful and highly passionate music many of the
historical issues that were being played out at that time, including religious
fanaticism, oppression of minority communities, questions of faith and
conscience, and political issues church and state, many of which are being
replayed in different ways and from quite different perspectives around the
world today, in America, in France and Britain, in Iran, Pakistan, and
Afghanistan, etc. The crisis of communication between extremist Catholics and
Protestants in the sixteenth century was just as strong as the present one
between, for example, some extremist Christians and Muslims. Byrd's music
reminds us there was a narrow middle way at a time when oppressive tyrannical
actions were hidden under the mask of state religion, and private religious
beliefs often caused feverish believers to engage in acts of terrorism, and when
caught to be tortured and executed.
The pieces in this concert occupy the middle ground between secular and sacred,
being mostly non liturgical religious texts set to music primarily for private
enjoyment at home. The evening begins with with the only secular piece in the
program, placed as an invocation to the power of Music. It is taken from the
well-known collection of Psalms, Songs and Sonnets. We then trace Byrd's public
conformity and official acceptance of the state religion imposed by Queen
ELizabeth; and his private music of political protest, in his motets of
lamentation and outrage, which gave voice to an oppressed community who often
saw themselves as martyrs for their religion. The program ends with serene
pieces from Byrd's private mission of solace in comfort of the berieved and in
memory of those who had died.
At the very center of the concert is "Why do I take my paper ink and pen?", a
work Byrd published despite its highly dangerous associations; he here composed
music to a poem written by Henry Walpole that recorded the persecution and
execution of Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest who was executed in 1581
(supposedly for treason, but in reality for his religious beliefs), a gesture
that started a wave of persecution of Catholics in England. In a move
reminiscent of the modern Taliban, the Protestant state also ordered the hands
of the poem's printer to be chopped off. But a few years later Byrd bravely
published this extraordinary musical setting. All of the pieces in this concert
are exceptionally powerful, both musically and emotionally. This is a concert
not to miss, of music that cannot be forgotten.
Tickets: $20 general admission, $15 seniors, $10 students. $2 discount for
advance online purchase. Online ticket sales end at 12PM, on day of concert.
November 6, 2009 - 8 p.m.
Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento St., San Francisco
At the corner of Sacramento St. & Van Ness
Parking: Old First Parking Garage on Sacrament between Polk and Van Ness
Tickets - http://www.oldfirstconcerts.org/performances/268/
Directions - http://www.oldfirstconcerts.org/directions/
November 7, 2008 - 8 p.m.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave, Oakland
At the corner of Montecito Ave & Bay Pl., just off Grant Ave
Tickets - http://www.eventbrite.com/event/455709038
Directions - http://www.chaliceconsort.org/venues.html#stpaul
Chalice Consort has had the privilege of being reviewed by San Francisco
Classical Voices twice out of three concerts last season. And, here is what SFCV
said about Chalice:
November 2008: "Chalice Consort...took on the challenging task of presenting an
all a cappella program of music from Renaissance Spain, and succeeded
magnificently. I say 'magnificent' due to the chorus' consistently accurate
tuning and the beautiful pure-voiced and appropriate choral tone of the soprano
section." You can read the full review here.
January 2009: "The Chalice Consort was heavenly indeed, singing with perfect
intonation and beautifully balanced sound." You can read the full review here.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]