Frederick Renz Hosts Lecture-Demonstrations by the New York Historical Dance Company, Parthenia, Lionheart, Asteria, ARTEK, and Members of the Grand Tour Orchestra
To celebrate the March 2 reopening of The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, the Metropolitan Museum Concerts & Lectures department presents Early Music Exposed, a daylong exploration of early music coordinated and hosted by Frederick Renz, founder of the Early Music Foundation and Director of Early Music, New York. Three two-hour-long sessions feature lecture-demonstrations on subjects including the use of period instruments, historical performance practices, and reading from original manuscripts, offered by some of New York's most notable exponents of historically informed performance, some of whom will showcase instruments from the Museum's collection.
"Just as a conservator strips away layers of yellowed varnish to reveal a painting's original vigor, performers of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and classical music apply historical conventions and practices – such as reading from original manuscripts and using period instruments – to allow musical repertory to ring true," says Frederick Renz. The discussion and performances offered in Early Music Exposed offer listeners "a deeper understanding and appreciation of this rich and fascinating legacy."
Each of the day's three sessions features two hour-long presentations, each hour showcasing a different topic and ensemble:
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon MORNING SESSION:
The Jigge Is Up: Dance in Shakespeare's Time
Featuring: the New York Historical Dance Company, Dorothy Olsson and Kaspar Mainz, co-directors, with Flying Forms, an instrumental ensemble (Marc Levine, violin; Tami Morse, harpsichord; Motomi Igarashi, bass viol)
The presentation will give a broad outline of dance in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, with visual illustrations and musical and danced examples. Topics including the types of dances, dance notation, social context, costumes, and the dance music will be covered, as well as a discussion of the challenges facing the dance reconstructor.
The Art of Persuasion: A Performer's Rhetoric
Featuring: Parthenia: A Consort of Viols (Beverly Au, Lawrence Lipnik, Rosemund Morley, Lisa Terry, viols), with Gary Thor Wedow, lecturer and harpsichord; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, soprano; Paul Hecht, actor; and Daniel Swenberg, theorbo
Parthenia explores the fascinating link between persuasive speech and music, illustrating the rules of rhetorical persuasion based on the works of famed Roman rhetorician Quintillian as well as 18th-century sources. The musical examples, taken from chant, Monteverdi, Purcell, Marais, and Handel, will be compared to spoken passages from Shakespeare. Topics discussed include the expressive possibilities in singing, singing as an imitation of speech, the emotional content of singing, historical vocal practices, treatises on rhetoric, and the effect of rhetoric on rhythm and meter.
Among the works to be performed: Monteverdi's "Addio, Roma!" (Ottavia's farewell to Rome from L'Incoronazione di Poppea); Hamlet's soliloquy from Shakespeare's Hamlet; Le Tableau de l'operation de la Taille by Marin Marais (a musical description of an operation to remove a gallstone); and "Dido's Lament" from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. AFTERNOON SESSION:
From Chant to Organum: Improvised Polyphony of the Middle Ages
Featuring: Lionheart, a male vocal sextet (Jeffrey Johnson, Lawrence Lipnik, John Olund, Richard Porterfield, Kurt-Owen Richards, Michael Ryan-Wenger)
Plainchant performance often includes elements of organum, the improvised polyphony from which Western harmony evolved over the course of the Middle Ages. What are these techniques? What evidence justifies their use in historically-informed performance? What do they require of the singer? What lasting influence have these techniques had on music? Members of Lionheart, each an expert in his own right, guide the audience through these and other issues, each from his own unique perspective. Sung examples include the "Dies irae" from the Requiem Mass, the Sarum hymn "Sancte dei preciose," and works by Notre-Dame composers Leonin and Perotin. This presentation touches on forms and processes, 'improvisation, singing, and treatises, all specifically in regard to the music of the Middle Ages.
From Manuscript to Concert Hall: Revival of Fifteenth-Century Chansons
Featuring: Asteria, voices and lute
Most musicians encounter medieval or Renaissance music for the first time with the aid of a modern edition. With very little to go on other than the musical notes on the page and some sparse suggestions by the editor, today's musicians often approach the performance of early music with trepidation and understandable caution. The members of Asteria demonstrate that early music can be just as lively as Mozart, or as passionate as Wagner, all the while respecting the original intent of the music. With the aid of numerous visual aids and musical examples, Asteria examines the context for music from the 14th and 15th centuries by asking, and attempting to answer, three fundamental questions: Who was playing this music? What was being played? Where was this music performed and why?
Using the 15th-century chanson "Va t'en souspir" by Estienne Grossin, Asteria will compare a modern edition of the song with its original manuscript source, and discuss how to extrapolate performance-practice clues such as tempo, meter, word stress, contrapuntal independence of voices, etc.
And lastly, it is a woefully little-known fact that listening to an entire hour or more of music in an acoustically calibrated concert hall with a silently attentive audience is a rather modern phenomenon that scarcely existed four or five hundred years ago. How then did people listen to music? Where was music performed? How might these details inform our performances today, which often must and do take place under anachronistic conditions?
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. EVENING SESSION:
Playing by Numbers: Baroque Continuo Realized
Featuring: ARTEK, an instrumental and vocal ensemble, Gwendolyn Toth, director and harpsichord (with Daniel Swenberg, theorbo; Motomi Igarashi, lirone; Christa Patton, Italian triple harp, and others)
Members of ARTEK will explain the mysteries of continuo notation, those odd numbers seen on Baroque bass lines, from their origins in Renaissance counterpoint and polyphony to their widespread use beginning in the early 17th century. The discussion will include instruments used in continuo, a simple explanation of "realizing" the harmony from figured bass, typical bass patterns for ground basses, changes in figured bass from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and artistic considerations as evidenced by treatises from the period.
The Flute's Glory Days: Traversing the Eighteenth-Century Traverso
Featuring: Members of the Grand Tour Orchestra, Charles Brink, director and flute (with Andrew Appel, harpsichord, Audrey Axinn, fortepiano, and others)
Every great composer of the 18th century wrote wonderful solo and ensemble music for the flute. The instrument was played by virtuosos, kings, princes and bourgeois connoisseurs alike. Given the fact that in the 19th century great composers used the flute mainly as an orchestra "color," the period between 1700 and 1800 can therefore be called the flute's "Golden Age." This lecture-demonstration will focus on the development of the flute from its beginnings as a solo-orchestra instrument (c.1690) to the twilight of its "Golden Age" around 1800. Its acoustical properties, playing techniques, repertoire, and great virtuosos will be covered. Six different instruments (as well as Renaissance and modern flutes) will be demonstrated to flesh out the instrument's development
Among the works to be performed: Early Baroque flute – J. Hotteterre "Echos"; Baroque flute – J.S. Bach "Corrente" from the Partita in A Minor; Classical flute – C. Stamitz "Caprice"; Late classical flute – F. Kuhlau "Fantasia"
Tickets to Early Music Exposed, priced at $45 for the entire day, and $20 per session, are available by calling 212-570-3949, or may be purchased online at www.metmuseum.org/tickets.
Frederick Renz is the guiding force behind the Early Music Foundation, which he founded in 1974. Equally adept in all forms of music and music drama from the 12th through the 18th centuries, maestro Renz has reaped international acclaim for his work as conductor, producer, director and performer while leading Early Music New York to preeminence in the field.
Frederick Renz studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Holland as a Fulbright Scholar. He was keyboard soloist with the legendary New York Pro Musica Antiqua for six seasons and founded the Early Music Foundation when the Pro Musica closed its doors. For his pioneering work in the genre of medieval music-drama, Renz has received numerous accolades including commissions from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Resurrection Play of Tours, The Raising of Lazarus and Conversion of St. Paul; Sponsus: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and The Play of Mary Magdalene), the Spoleto Festival (Herod and the Innocents), and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (The Play of St. Nicholas with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., narrator, and Daniel and the Lions). Renz is the recipient of Producers Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts' Opera/Musical Theater Program as well as the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He has the distinction of having produced the complete medieval dramas contained in the Fleury Playbook manuscript and has recorded the extant repertoire of medieval dances (Lyrichord Discs: Istanpitta I & II)
# # #
March 1, 2010