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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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Avery Gosfield (recorder, pipe and tabor, direction)

6 novembre 2014

Avery Gosfield (recorder, pipe and tabor, direction)

Avery Gosfield (recorder, pipe and tabor, direction) In 2004, a chance discovery of some Jewish-Italian sung poetry allowed her to conjugate her roots with her passion for early music. Next to research and performing, she writes articles and lectures regularly on subjects ranging from the Troubadours’ influence in Northern Europe to popular devotion in Renaissance France. She has taught master classes on five continents, from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis to KlezKanada, and has developed didactic programs for children and teachers for major institutions including the Royaumont Foundation, the city of Geneva and the Maitrîse de Paris.

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Francis Biggi (plucked strings, direction)

6 novembre 2014

Francis Biggi (plucked strings, direction)

Francis Biggi (plucked strings, direction) is the director of the Early Music Department at the Geneva Conservatory, where he also teaches medieval music, lute, iconography and organology. A dedicated pedagogue, he is a board member of the Early Music Platform of the European Conservatory Association. He was a founding member of two ensembles that were fundamental in the Italian ‘school’ of medieval music performance, ‘Alia Musica’ and ‘Ars Italica.’  His pluri-decennial comparative study of music from historical sources and the popular tradition has led to numerous articles, CDs (including “Hombres de Maïz” and “La Fabula d’Orpheo”), concert programs and courses.

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Gloria Moretti (voice)

6 novembre 2014

Gloria Moretti (voice)

Gloria Moretti (voice) Although trained as a classical singer, she has always enjoyed singing less traditional repertoires: pop, traditional music from the Mediterranean and beyond, contemporary and light music.  She has performed under the direction of numerous conductors, including Sergio Vartolo, Roberto Gini and Gabriel Garrido. She regularly gives master classes, notably at the Royaumont Foundation, where she taught voice and was responsible for the musical reconstruction of the vocal pieces for Angelo Poliziano’s pre-opera, “La Fabula di Orpheo.”  She has recorded for Quadrivium, Virgin, Warner Chappel, Tactus, Philips, Amadeus, K617, Raumklang, l’Empreinte Digitale, and ES.

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Ana Pia Capurso (voice)

6 novembre 2014

Ana Pia Capurso (voice)

After receiving her degree in romance philology from Antwerp University, Ana Pia Capurso (voice) specialized in musicology at the University of Bologna.  At the same time, she pursued her passion for singing, taking master classes with, among others, Emma Kirby, Montserrat Figueras, Rinaldo Alessandrini and Jill Feldman. She performs regularly as a soloist, working with theatrical directors such as Graham Vick and Claude Régi in leading festivals including the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), the Ravenna Festival, MITO Settembre Musica (Milano/Torino) and the Festival of Aix en Provence. She has recorded for Tactus, Amadeus, VRT and Bayer

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Marco Ferrari (recorder, double flute, dulcian, bagpipe)

6 novembre 2014

Marco Ferrari (recorder, double flute, dulcian, bagpipe)

Marco Ferrari performs professionally on recorder, clarinet, bagpipe, shawm and renaissance flute, and has studied playing techniques from across the world since the beginning of his career. He was director of Sine Nomine/Acantus, one of Italy’s most influential early music ensembles, and currently leads Salon de Musiques. He is regularly invited to play with musicians from Egypt, Lebanon, Serbia, Romania, Greece and North Africa, making him an active participant in the oral musical tradition. Since 2005, he teaches improvisation workshops at the Early Music Department of the Geneva Conservatory. He appears regularly on radio and television and has recorded more than 50 CDs to date.

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Massimiliano Dragoni (percussion)

6 novembre 2014

Massimiliano Dragoni (percussion)

Massimiliano Dragoni (percussion) joined Lucidarium before his twentieth birthday. Since then, he has played more than 2’000 concerts across five continents, recording for over a dozen labels. He earned a Masters Degree in Philosophy with a thesis dedicated to Boethius’ influence on medieval music theory. He gives frequent courses in early and traditional percussion techniques as well as hammer dulcimer throughout Europe. He is a founding member of the ensemble Anonima Frottolisti, and was the founder Resonars – Accademia di Arti Antiche.  In addition, he is a fervent researcher of Italian music, dance, folk-medicine and cooking traditions.

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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.