The New York Early Music Celebration returns October 8–18, 2015. I’ll be performing my Medieval Songs 101 program on Tuesday, October 13, at 12:30 PM (full details on my concerts page). The festival’s focus this year is Iberian music, so I’ll be adding more Iberian monophony to the mix of trouvere, troubadour, minnesinger, and Machaut songs (and more). There are loads of great concerts lined up on NYEMC 2015, which is a service project of the Early Music Foundation of NY. You can see the full calendar on their website: http://nyemc.com
On Sunday, 9/20, I volunteered at a benefit for Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS), which featured a tribute to viol player Judith Davidoff, honoring her years of service to early music in NYC. Judith has founded and played in numerous early music groups, including the NY Consort of Viols, a group I’ve had the pleasure of singing with several times. (Coincidentally, on Friday I had just been to NYPL’s Performing Arts library, where I had listened to a 1972 Waverly Consort album of the Cantigas de Santa Maria—some of which I’m working on—and there Judith was on the cover (and playing beautifully on the LP), along with Jan DeGaetani, among others.) It was great to meet and work with some of the behind-the-scenes people involved with GEMS, which, among other things, supports the production of the Play of Daniel that I’m in. (Daniel returns to Trinity Church’s Twelfth Night Festival in January 2016.) The evening was a wonderful celebration of Judith’s contributions. Plus I wound up leading a singalong—about the viola da gamba, naturally—with noted soprano Sheila Schonbrun (aka Judith’s favorite singer)!
Composer John Stone’s song cycle “Daybreak in Alabama” (which I premiered and recorded with John—see Audio page) was the subject of a seminar on Monday, 2/23, at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. John was present and answered questions about the cycle after hearing four students sing the songs. It’s great that these songs are getting more attention!
The Play of Daniel (a production of GEMS, NY)—in which I sing the role of satrap and play medieval lute—returned to the Twelfth Night Festival at Trinity Church Wall St. at the end of December 2014, and it was another success with enthusiastic audiences and a glowing review in the New York Times. I’ve been with this production since its launch at the Cloisters in 2008, and I hope there will be more shows to come! The Play of Daniel was created by singers at Beauvais Cathedral in the twelfth century, and I recently found a great website, called Mapping Gothic France, that has a lot of info about Beauvais Cathedral, including 360-degree panoramic photos (move your mouse slowly to scroll)—check it out here.
On November 6, 2014, I gave a concert of medieval songs, self-accompanied on lute, on the Midtown Concerts series at St. Bartholomew’s Church, NYC. I hope to take this program to many other venues! Here’s what I wrote for the Midtown Concerts blog about it: When people think of medieval song, they may think of monks chanting (definitely one part of medieval music), or often they’ll think of a guy in tights playing a lute and singing “Greensleeves,” and that’s actually renaissance era. So I thought it would be fun to put together a program to introduce audiences to the witty, brilliant poetry and compelling melodies of medieval secular song. The period of music lumped under the heading “medieval” spans one thousand years. For my “Medieval Songs 101” program on the Midtown Concerts series, I’ll be performing songs covering nearly two centuries from Europe and England, in five different languages. The program will include music of the troubadours, trouvères, and minnesingers (I’ll explain more about those terms during the show), plus a song by Guillaume de Machaut. You’ll hear songs by Gace Brulé, Martin Codax, Adam de la Halle, Walther von der Volgeweide, and many others. I’m also doing what is generally considered to be the first sestina (a poetic form), “Lo ferm voler q’el cor m’intra,” by the troubadour Arnaut Daniel.
I’ve finally had a chance to listen to the latest CD from the Choir of St. Luke in the Fields, NYC, O Magnum Mysterium: Christmas in Iberia (2012). It’s a recording of the choir’s December 2011 concert, a fun show I was grateful to be a part of. It features glorious music of the 16th and 17th centuries by Victoria (including his Missa O Magnum Mysterium), Comes, and Guerrero. Besides singing with the choir, I’m the soloist on the Guerrero villancico “Virgen Santa,” but I think my favorite track is the charming “Oyd Oyd” also by Guerrero. You can order the CD here.