image copyright 2017 Andrea Finesso


The Music of the Merchant: Summer Course in Venetian Renaissance and Italian Jewish Music
Fondazione Cini, July 24 – 29, 2017
For more information, write
or call +39 338 833 1352 (from Europe) or 610-572-2441 (from North America)

Gloria Moretti:
vocal ensemble, voice
Francis Biggi: instrumental ensemble, plucked strings
Avery Gosfield: instrumental ensemble, Jewish Renaissance song workshop, recorder, pipe and tabor
Enrico Fink: Jewish music, Italian cantorial tradition, voice
Massimiliano Dragoni: Early and traditional percussion, hammer dulcimer, percussion workshop.

Final Concert: Sunday, July 29th: concert, Fondazione Cini

Course languages: English, French, English

The Music of the Merchant:

This workshop explores the mosaic of repertoires that would have made up the ‘soundscape’ of sixteenth-century Venice (the setting of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice) inside the ghetto and beyond its gates: mascherate and dances linked to the Commedia dell’Arte and carnival; Jewish songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish from 16th century sources; traditional, orally-transmitted Italian Jewish liturgy, paraliturgy and piyyutim (sung Hebrew poems), some taken from the 16th and 18th century studies of Jewish liturgical melodies carried out by Ercole Bottrigari and Benedetto Marcello.

It is designed to offer a unique opportunity to prepare a program of Venetian music while living in the city itself, experiencing first-hand the places and spaces that shaped the Serenissima’s musical culture. During the week, we will work intensively, putting together a performance of the music that ordinary people would have enjoyed at home or while celebrating, with special emphasis on the music of the Ghetto.

Besides vocal, instrumental and mixed ensembles, there will be workshops in Jewish repertoire, song, and historical percussion. Private lessons in voice, lute, recorder, pipe and tabor, percussion and hammer dulcimer will also be available. Students will learn how to approach repertoires that have come down to us in partial form (for example a song for which only the text survives), and about the basics of researching and putting together innovative programs. Lecture demonstrations on subjects including the Commedia dell’Arte, art and architecture and a visit to the Ghetto and the Jewish Cemetery will be part of participants’ full immersion into Venice’s cultural history.

The course is meant for singers and instrumentalists interested in Renaissance and/or Jewish music. No matter what the participant’s principal interest, attendance of courses in all disciplines is encouraged. Auditors welcome.

Costs: Tuition is free for both active participants and auditors.

Rooms are available at the Residence of the Fondazione Cini: € 65 @ night for singles, € 90 for doubles and at the Camplus Living Residence (45 singles/ 65 doubles) on the adjacent Giudecca Island.

Moderately-priced lunches (from sandwiches @ €3,50 to 3 course meals @ €15) are available at the Rosa Salva bar.  Both the Fondazione Cini and Campus have cooking facilities.

Level Requirements for active participants:

Early music ensembles (vocal, instrumental and mixed): open to singers and instrumentalists with at least a young professional or conservatory level.

All Renaissance instruments (recorders, flutes, viols, spinet, lutes, violin, cornetti, sackbuts, etc., etc.) welcome.

Italian Jewish tradition and Jewish Renaissance poetry: open to singers at an intermediate to advanced level with good reading skills.

Cantorial Workshop: please contact the instructor (

Percussion workshop, lectures and other activities: open to all participants.

All participants, active and passive, are required to submit a CV and an application.
In some cases, active participants may also be asked to send a recording.

Download the application


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