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This concert begins with Palestrina’s motet Salve Regina for three choirs with doubling of four voices with baroque trombones. Palestrina was born probably at Palestrina, almost certainly between 3 Feb 1525 and 2 Feb 1526; d Rome, 2 Feb 1594). His success in reconciling the functional and aesthetic aims of Catholic church music in the post-Tridentine period earned him an enduring reputation as the ideal Catholic composer, as well as giving his style an iconic stature as a model of perfect achievement. Palestrina’s name is derived from the town of Palestrina in the Sabine Hills near Rome, known in antiquity as Praeneste. The Missa Papae Marcelli of 1561 bears the name of Pope Marcellus II, who resigned after only a few weeks. who established the Council of Trent which sought to reform the composition of polyphonic sacred music so that the words were intelligible. Romantic legend has it that, because of the clarity with which Palestrina treated the text, with this mass he ‘saved church music’. It was customary to lower works a fifth to accommodate male voices and so it is that this performance is sung by male voices double with baroque trombones.
Giacomo Carissimi wrote an incredible amount of both sacred motets and secular cantatas for 1, 2 and 3 female voices and you will hear four of these motets in this program. Quasi columba speciose is a Marian Motet for three sopranos & basso continuo and is transcribed from a manuscript facsimile which is located in the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna. Salve, amor noster, another Marian Motet for two sopranos & basso continuo is transcribed from an early printed edition Scelta de’ motetti da cantarsi a due,e tre voci… also located in the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna. Gaudeat terra, jubilent montes, is a Christmas Motet for two sopranos & basso continuo and comes from a manuscript tha belongs to the Gustav Düben Collection in the Uppsala Universitet, Department of Musicology (see page 18 of this program) Exulta, gaude, filia Sion, a Christmas Motet for two sopranos & basso continuo closes this Epiphany concert. This last motet provides for a delightful conclusion as Carissimi adds a piva which may be sung if so desired.
A piva (pronounced pee-vah) is two things: it is a bagpipe and it is also an Italian dance of the 15th and 16th centuries as shown in our cover image. A wind in its simplest form, is consists of a reedpipe with fingerholes inserted into an air reservoir usually made from skin or bladder, (hence the bag) into which air is driven from a blowpipe. Perhaps originally a peasant dance to the accompaniment of bagpipes, the piva was a dance for couples with improvisation by the male partner. In the spirit of a dance for couples and of wild improvisations at Epiphany, you will be guided to sing your part in the Noe refrain, as all the upper voices present will take the lead and the lower voices will follow suit. We will all sing and dance a holiday piva! Evviva!
A presto e arrivederci!
~ Garrick Comeaux, founder and artistic director