Programs

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MACCHINE – SCIENCE AND MUSIC FROM THE TIME OF LEONARD DA VINCI

26 marzo 2017

MACCHINE – SCIENCE AND MUSIC FROM THE TIME OF LEONARD DA VINCI

 

In commemoration of the 500-year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Lucidarium has created a program exploring the music of his time. Leonardo, like any intellectual of his era, was an accomplished singer and
also played the Lira da braccio, which he probably used to accompany himself while singing, presumably also improvising verses. In addition to performing, Leonardo also used his creativity energy to invent a number of fantastical musical instruments. Like his other inventions: his parachute, bicycle or car, they often foreshadow later discoveries, and like them, were probably never built: or if they ever were, have disappeared without a trace. For this project, Lucidarium will be working in close collaboration with some of Europe’s foremost instrument-builders in order to recreate some of these extravagant, sound-producing macchine, bringing them back to life for the first time in 500 years, or, perhaps, for the first time ever…

The music beloved by the intellectuals and artists of Leonardo’s era was based on two contrasting, but intertwined ideals that would finally be reconciled at the end of the 15th century. On the one side, the Northern maestri of the international polyphonic school were fervently experimenting with complex rhythmic proportions, chromaticism, avant-garde forms of notation, and
musica ficta. They saw polyphony as a terrain for experimentation, where research brought immediate, tangi
le re
sults. Music was the place where mathematical experiments could be brought to life, where composers could give musical form to the mathematical proportions that were the basis of their perception of the world.

In contrast to this complex universe, a different kind of music began to be heard in culture’s highest echelons. Inspired by their interest in the past, the Humanists began experimenting with new forms; using a style that they believed was the revival of the Classical tradition: the monodic declamation of poetic verses. In these simple, sparsely accompanied songs, often half-sung and half-spoken, it was the content of the text (and the performer’s skill in expressing it) that mattered, rather than a composer’s ability to construct fantastic musical structures. The two positions were finally reconciled thanks to polyphonic composers like Tinctoris or Gaffurius who were also convinced Humanists. This led to a ‘fusion’ repertoire of simpler, more intuitive polyphonic forms, some probably based on monodic declamation, that were better suited to Italian taste. The music for these simpler pieces could very well be based on folk music: popular, orally-transmitted, melodic formulas.

Leonardo’s imaginary, extravagant macchine designed to produce music include the “viola organista”, the “tamburo elastico” (precursor of the modern timpani), a horsehead viola, flauti glissatti (a kind of Renaissance slide whistle) and others. These were working, visionary instruments, not just mechanical toys or curios, and part of the fervent desire for experimentation fueled by the twin catalysts of Art and Sci
ence. To the great minds of the day, architecture, mathematics and geography, counterpoint, poetry and perspective, astronomy, and color theory were all marvelous machines. Macchine that Renaissance Man used to measure and interpret that which he considered the greatest gift of all: the natural World and its wonders.

In commemoration of the 500-year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Lucidarium has created a program exploring the music of his time. Leonardo, like any intellectual of his era, was an accomplished singer and also played the Lira da braccio, which he probably used to accompany himself while singing, presumably also improvising verses. In addition to performing, Leonardo also used his creativity energy to invent a number of fantastical musical instruments. Like his other inventions: his parachute, bicycle or car, they often foreshadow later discoveries, and like them, were probably never built: or if they ever were, have disappeared without a trace. For this project, Lucidarium will be working in close collaboration with some of Europe’s foremost instrument-builders in order to recreate some of these extravagant, sound-producing macchine, bringing them back to life for the first time in 500 years, or, perhaps, for the first time ever…

The music beloved by the intellectuals and artists of Leonardo’s era was based on two contrasting, but intertwined ideals that would finally be reconciled at the end of the 15th century. On the one side, the Northern maestri of the international polyphonic school were fervently experimenting with complex rhythmic proportions, chromaticism, avant-garde forms of notation, and musica ficta. They saw polyphony as a terrain for experimentation, where research brought immediate, tangible results. Music was the place where mathematical experiments could be brought to life, where composers could give musical form to the mathematical proportions that were the basis of their perception of the world.

In contrast to this complex universe, a different kind of music began to be heard in culture’s highest echelons. Inspired by their interest in the past, the Humanists began experimenting with new forms; using a style that they believed was the revival of the Classical tradition: the monodic declamation of poetic verses. In these simple, sparsely accompanied songs, often half-sung and half-spoken, it was the content of the text (and the performer’s skill in expressing it) that mattered, rather than a composer’s ability to construct fantastic musical structures. The two positions were finally reconciled thanks to polyphonic composers like Tinctoris or Gaffurius who were also convinced Humanists. This led to a ‘fusion’ repertoire of simpler, more intuitive polyphonic forms, some probably based on monodic declamation, that were better suited to Italian taste. The music for these simpler pieces could very well be based on folk music: popular, orally-transmitted, melodic formulas.

Leonardo’s imaginary, extravagant macchine designed to produce music include the “viola organista”, the “tamburo elastico” (precursor of the modern timpani), a horsehead viola, flauti glissatti (a kind of Renaissance slide whistle) and others. These were working, visionary instruments, not just mechanical toys or curios, and part of the fervent desire for experimentation fueled by the twin catalysts of Art and Science. To the great minds of the day, architecture, mathematics and geography, counterpoint, poetry and perspective, astronomy, and color theory were all marvelous machines. Macchine that Renaissance Man used to measure and interpret that which he considered the greatest gift of all: the natural World and its wonders.

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SOUNDS FROM SHYLOCK’S VENICE

5 marzo 2017

SOUNDS FROM SHYLOCK’S VENICE

Sounds from Shylock’s Venice. Program in Honor of the 500-Year Anniversary of the Establishment of the Venice Ghetto

Merchant-2

16th century Venice was a place where Jews were largely able to live according to their beliefs and traditions, at the same time as they carried out an intense, continuous exchange with their Gentile neighbors in the piazze where everyone gathered, regardless of class or religion. It was a place full of real-life characters so incredible they could easily have leapt out of one of the bard’s plays, such as Elias Bachur Levita, a German Jew who made Italy his adoptive home, author of dictionaries, psalm translations and Bible commentaries, as well as epic poems in Yiddish written in that most Italian of poetic forms, the ottava rima; or Leon Modena: scholar, poet, playwright and compulsive gambler…

Music for a Merchant attempts to recreate the sights and sounds of a day in the life of Shylock, as he wanders in and out of the Jewish quarter in the vibrant, colorful world that was Renaissance Venice: the structure of the program is inspired by Leopold Bloom’s wanderings in early 20th century Dublin as recounted in James Joyce’s Ulysses…

Repertoire: Songs in Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish and Spanish, (the languages used by the various nationi d’ebrei when Northern Italy was a magnet for Jewish immigration) are combined with the dances that Jew and Gentile alike would have enjoyed while celebrating a baptism, circumcision, or wedding – whether it took place under a chuppah or inside of a church – as well as canti carnascialeschi, songs for Purim; and the villanelle ebraiche that give a glimpse of how Jews were viewed by their neighbors.  Texts drawn from contemporary Italian sources – Leon Modena’s autobiography and Venetian archives – round out the program.  Projections which mix images with translations of sung and spoken texts in a multimedia program designed to make 21st century audiences experience the sounds and sights of Shylock’s world…

8 – 11 performers: Enrico Fink: voice, narrator, Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso, (Lior Leibovici): voice; Avery Gosfield, Marco Ferrari: Renaissance Winds, Francis Biggi: lute, colascione, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer; Élodie Poirier: ‘cello, nychelarpa (Amandine Lesne: viola da gamba)
Silvia Fabiani: video artist

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SHURÙQ

5 novembre 2014

SHURÙQ

Musica Mediterranea

Shurùq-1
explores the links between music from the Palestinian Arab tradition and the medieval Italian repertoire: the differences and similarities that unite and distinguish these two poetic and musical traditions.  Conceived and created in collaboration with two young musicians, recent graduates of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Palestine, the goal of Shurùq is an ambitious one: the continuation of a centuries-old tradition of cultural exchange.  Imagined as an ongoing laboratory dedicated to improvisation and historically informed performance practice (along with a comparative study of styles and forms), its goal is to explore the many possibilities of dialogue between languages that, although different in appearance, still share a common origin.

Repertoire: traditional Arab repertoire, 14th century Italian Istampitte and monophonic ballate

8 Performers: Gloria Moretti: voice, Muhammed Ghosheh: traditional Arab violin, Osama Abu Arafeh: oud, qanun, Avery Gosfield: recorder, Francis Biggi: lute, cetra, Baptiste Chopin: qanun, Oleguer Aymami Busque: fidel, cello, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion

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BABEL

5 novembre 2014

BABEL

Babel-3

Traveling tunes, sung poetry and fake books through the ages…

Although the “hows” and “whys” remain largely a mystery, certain songs and dances have remained popular, against all odds, across the ages. Following a twisted path, often switching back and forth between oral and written transmission, they have survived and even thrived across temporal, geographical, religious, cultural and class borders. For this project, Ilya Shneyveys and Sasha Lurje of forshpil join Lucidarium in a collaboration where music from historical sources as well as the Jewish, Italian, German, and Eastern European tradition are used as a springboard for new creations

 

Repertoire: Bergamasche, spagnoletti, balli di Mantova and correnti from 16th to 20th century sources, Jewish liturgy based on Renaissance tunes, Rumanian folk music and Yiddish song old and new…

6 – 8 performers: Sasha Lurje, Enrico Fink: voice, Ilye Shneyveys: tin whistle, guitar, accordion, Avery Gosfield: recorder, pipe and tabor, Francis Biggi: lute, colascione, guitar, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer (James Hewitt: fiddle, Gloria Moretti: voice)

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UNA MUSA PLEBEA

5 novembre 2014

UNA MUSA PLEBEA

Everyday Music in Renaissance Italy

“La Fornarina” Raphael (1483-1520)

“La Fornarina” Raphael (1483-1520)

Life in the bustling cities of Renaissance Italy must have been an intense experience, full of constantly changing sights, sounds and odors: dancing, singing, street fairs, processions, and huge civic celebrations for important events.  People of all classes were thrown together, and daily contact between the nobility and the common man was the norm.  Not surprisingly, during this intense period of cultural exchange, very different levels of society often had surprisingly similar tastes in music.  Home-grown Italian forms – Giustiniane, or frottole or improvised sung poetry – were considered equal to if not better than the intricate compositions of great Northern masters such as Josquin des Pres. And indeed, it’s easy to understand the mass appeal of the native repertoire: soaring melodies, sonorous harmonies, universal themes like unrequited love or the great exploits of legendary heroes, and dances that still swing after 500 years.  These forms “trickled up” during the Renaissance, when the music of the common people had great influence on that of the nobles and rich merchants.  Later, they would “trickle down,” so that, incredibly, you can still hear tales from Greek mythology and selections from the 16th century “Orlando Furioso” sung in Central Italy today, lovingly preserved by the tenant farmers, masons, school teachers, carpenters and postal workers who perform them in a style that hovers magically between singing and speaking: a precious glimpse into how this music might have been performed long ago.

Dolando Bernardini, 1920 - 2006

Dolando Bernardini, 1920 – 2006

7 Performers: Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso: voice; Avery Gosfield: recorders, pipe and tabor, Marco Ferrari: recorders, double flute, dulcian, Francis Biggi: cetra, colascione, lute, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer, Elisabetta Benfenati: Renaissance guitar (Oleguer Aymami Busque, viola da gamba).

The Lucidarium ensemble is a pleasure to hear. Their sensitive and subtle colors …and sparkling virtuosity animate the music in refreshing ways. Their two female singers express the texts by turns with delicacy, sadness, bravura, and beauty.

Catherine Moore, American Record Guide

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CON L’ARTE E CON L’INGANNO

5 novembre 2014

CON L’ARTE E CON L’INGANNO

The Musical Roots of the Commedia dell’Arte. Co-production Festivoce (Pigna, Corsica) / Association Culturelle Lucidarium

François Bunel (1552-1595), Personnages de la Comédie Italienne

François Bunel (1552-1595), Personnages de la Comédie Italienne

The Commedia dell’Arte was born in 16th Century Italy, when the courts were “downsized,” forcing laid-off actors and musicians to form companies that performed for a paying public.  Although this would later change, in the beginning, the main emphasis was on text, song and music rather than the physical or acrobatic aspects of performance.  The commedianti portrayed characters that would have been instantly recognizable to their public, like Zanni, the hilariously impertinent servant, il Dottore, the pompous but ignorant physician, or Il Capitano, a cowardly blowhard.  The commedia was ad-libbed – comic scenes, based on a series of set gags and situations, changing nightly: the actors played off of each other and the public. Its music must have had the same freewheeling flavor: dances improvised over harmonic patterns, played by musicians that were as used to jamming together as any seasoned jazz band today.
Here, in a homage to the first days of the Commedia, Lucidarium, in a semi-staged production, shows what life might have been like for a troupe of down-on-their luck actors and musicians in the 16th century.  Moving seamlessly between music and theater, Con l’Arte e con l’Inganno unites frottole, strambotti, canzoni and balli that treat typical Commedia themes with scenes drawn from its earliest sources.

8 Performers: Enrico Fink: commediante, Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso: voice;
Avery Gosfield: recorders, pipe and tabor, Marco Ferrari: recorders, double flute, dulcian,
Francis Biggi: cetra, colascione, lute, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer, Oleguer Aymami Busque, viola da gamba also available in a staged version with a portable set and projections, featuring designs by Toni Casalonga and animations by Anne Pellegrini

Con-l'Arte-2

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NINFALE

5 novembre 2014

NINFALE

Ovid, Metamorphosis, Music and Poetry in the Late Middle Ages. Commissioned by the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival

Le ninfe cucinano Biblioteca Ricc. 1503, GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO, 1482

Le ninfe cucinano Biblioteca Ricc. 1503, GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO, 1482

 

Ovid played an important role in the European cultural universe of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  His influence can be found in the mythological and metaphorical themes that abound in the poesia per musica of late medieval Italy: from texts which recall the myth of Diana and Acteon, to songs which evoke the Iguane, the mythical nymphs which as legend would have it, inhabit the Euganei mountains.  Even the madrigal, the most characteristic musical form of the Italian Trecento, was considered the result of an mythical metamorphosis, where learned musicians miraculously transformed the “natural” songs of ancient shepherds into a refined and subtle art form.

 

Repertoire: madrigali and ballate and sung declamation treating mythological themes, instrumental dances from the late 14th century.

Texts by: Franco Sachetti (1330?-1400?,) Giovanni Boccaccio (1313?-1375?,) Francesco Petrarca (1304 – July 19, 1374) Giovanni dell’Anguillara (died 1572,) Riccardo Collotti (ca. 1900 – ca. 1990;)

Music by: Jacopo da Bologna, Vincenzo da Rimini, Francesco Landini, Andrea da Firenze, Matteo da Perusio.

7 Performers: Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso: voice; Avery Gosfield, Marco Ferrari: medieval wind instruments, Francis Biggi: cetra, medieval lute, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, Oleguer Aymami Busque: viella

Early Music America:
Ensemble Lucidarium made its BEMF premiere… in a terrific program entitled ‘Ninfale: Ovid, Poetry, and Music in Italy at the End of the Middle Ages.

The Boston Music Intelligencer :
Taking their cue from Boccaccio, Avery Gosfield and Francis Biggi of Ensemble Lucidarium presented a lively and varied program of late medieval music and poetry…  The performance of an anonymous early two-voice madrigal, Pianze la bella iguana, by the two sopranos without accompaniment, was a delight, their voices complimenting each other in perfect intonation… A medieval jam session involving all members of the ensemble brought the first half of the program to a rousing close.

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AYN NEUE LID

5 novembre 2014

AYN NEUE LID

When Yiddish Was Young. Program created with the support of the Rothschild Foundation and the EAJC

Marc Chagall, The Betrothed and Eiffel Tower (1914)

Marc Chagall, The Betrothed and Eiffel Tower (1914)

The alternation of periods of hostility with those of clemency on the part of the local population, princes and ecclesiastical institutions marked the existence of the Jews who lived in the German-speaking lands from medieval times throughout the Renaissance.  This continuous cycle of conditioned acceptance, oppression, expulsion (and worse) would not be broken until the enlightenment.  Still, despite adversity, there are clear signs of a flourishing cultural tradition, closely entwined with that of the surrounding populations.  In fact, it was a German dialect that would be the basis of the culture of one of the most important Jewish populations, the Ashkenazy, and it was in this era that the seeds of Yiddishkeit, a poetical and musical tradition that has identified an entire people for centuries, were sown.

Ayn-neue-lid-

Much Jewish poetry meant for singing has survived in 16th Century collections, in a German that, although written in Hebrew characters, was close to that spoken by the mainstream population.  In the small South German towns where Church and Synagogue were sometimes separated only by a tavern, Jew and Christian used the same music for dancing and celebrations, and much of the liturgical music and folk songs transcribed at the beginning of the last century bear strong traces of Renaissance music.  This is Yiddish before the “fantastic voyage” that would bring it across Eastern Europe and back again, but with its pithy humor, biting satire and contemplative moments, it is just as lively, earthy and touching as the Yiddish of yesterday and today.

7 – 8 Performers: Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso, Enrico Fink: voice; Avery Gosfield: recorders, pipe and tabor, Marco Ferrari: recorders, double flute, dulcian
; Francis Biggi: cetra, colascione, lute, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer (Oleguer Aymami Busque, viola da gamba)

 

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Reviews

Raze/Raise

Lucidarium is an irresistibly fun group, a light-hearted collection of friends out to relish each other’s company by making music together. That unbuttoned ethos is a welcome intrusion in the concert hall, one that will hopefully infect other performers.

Basler Zeitung

Next to their stylistic confidence and saddle-sure historical interpretation, Ensemble Lucidarium shows us just how contagiously vivacious the reconstruction of medieval sounds can be.

Tagblatt.ch

The six members of Lucidarium let their listeners dive into a completely enchanting world… The musical poetry of the Middle Ages was brought back to life in the most beautiful way possible

New York Times

… The Ensemble Lucidarium, an Italian group, in a program of vocal works (and a couple of high-energy saltarellos) on Wednesday afternoon, performed in a style free of vibrato and other forms of modern polish but plentifully adorned with florid vocal embellishments…

American Recorder Society Magazine

Anyone who arrived thinking of Medieval repertoire as “minor” or as music that ‘all sounds alike’ left with changed ideas.

The Arts Desk

There was a naturalness and relaxedness to their performance that was immensely pleasing.

Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace

… it was enough to be swept away, by the refinement and conviction of the performers, to a place where magic reigns.