Consortium Carissimi was conceived of by Garrick Comeaux, Artistic Director, in 1996 while living in Rome, Italy. He founded Consortium Carissimi in 2007 as an official nonprofit, 501 (c)(3). This Minnesota-based performing ensemble has the mission of uncovering and bringing to 21st century audiences the long-forgotten Italian baroque music of the 16th and 17th centuries. It does so through live concerts, master classes, recordings and publications. Consortium Carissimi bears the name of the famous composer whose music was known for its simple, fresh approach to text, melody and accompaniment.
Much of the music that Consortium Carissimi performs has not been heard since it was first created in the 16th or 17th century—and it is only through the transcriptions of these original documents that this music may be heard today. The unique strength that Consortium Carissimi possesses is that it has in its library over 200 transcriptions of these long-forgotten works. Currently, there are no other organizations in the United States that have transcriptions such as these. As a result of this uniqueness, Consortium Carissimi contributes to the cultural vitality of the Minnesota community in four key and distinct ways:
- Performances: the ensemble of mixed voices and instruments performs at least three concerts annually of repertoire from the Italian-Roman sacred and secular music of the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Educational programs: Consortium Carissimi conducts master classes with educational institutions located in Minnesota and Tri-State area. Master classes include intense studies of vocal and instrumental practices of 16th and 17th century Rome.
- Manuscript transcription and publication: Consortium Carissimi is the only organization in the United States that has in its library transcriptions of over 200 manuscripts of this time period, including the complete works of Giacomo Carissimi.
- Recordings: Consortium Carissimi intends to extend public access to and knowledge of this musical tradition through digital recordings.