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Chalice Consort presents: "By The Waters of Babylon"

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  • Rebekah Wu
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2009
      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.

      ~Davitt Moroney


      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.

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