Top Menu

Tag Archives | renaissance music

K-State Madrigal & Motet Ensemble and Recorder Consort: Sounds of the Renaissance

The K-State Recorder Consort and newly-formed Madrigal & Motet Ensemble will highlight the beauty and creativity of secular and sacred music from throughout the European Renaissance.

Works include selections from Anthony Holborne, Josquin des Prez, Adrian Willaert, Gaspar van Weerbeke, Thomas Morley, Erasmus Widmann, Thomas Tomkins, Michael Praetorius, Jacob van Eyck, and William Cornish.

Continue Reading

2018 Engagement Award Reflection: Forgotten Clefs

Early Music America offers awards annually to support projects for children or adults by ensembles and individual artists. The awards are intended to promote awareness and appreciation of early music and historical performance. EMA’s goal is to draw new audiences and participants to early music.

The deadline to apply for a 2019 Engagement Award is Monday, April 8, 2019.

Learn more and apply now.

Engagement Award Project: Shawms and Stories 

Shawms and Stories brings a 30-minute musical storytelling program for 5th-6th grade children and their families to libraries, museums, and community centers in South-Central Indiana. This season, we journeyed to the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance to tell the story of the Life of a Knight through his oath to serve, unrequited love, battle, and death. The story was modified for younger audiences where appropriate.

Early Music is central to this project. We perform on copies of Renaissance instruments including shawms, dulcians, recorders, harp, drum, and sackbut in this program. The project begins as we introduce the “strange flutes and toots you see before you.” After the performance, we welcome questions. We found that about half of the questions were about history and dress and the other half were almost exclusively about our instruments. Of particular interest to our young audiences were: gut strings on the harp, calf-skinned drum, and, of course, the name of the sackbut. We made sure to discuss our personal journeys to these instruments through our modern band training, recorder classes in elementary school, and more. Several students wanted to know what we started on—in this way, we were able to explain the clarinet as a path to the dulcian or the modern saxophone as a way to later study Renaissance recorder

Kids at all locations had substantial questions and comments about our instruments and attire. Our favorite discussion was around the harp. When we explained that the harp strings are made from sheep intestines, the kids many questions about how animals relate to music. One fifth-grader claimed that there are 100 types of sheep–he wanted to know which types were used for the strings.

There were also several questions about our attire: why did a girl play the knight? Why did the Medieval princess cover her hair? This allowed us to address questions of history and culture in our program that had music as its central focus. All of our community partners (Brown County Public Library, Monroe County Public Library, Ellettsville Boys & Girls Club, Brown County Head Start, and Spencer Elementary) strongly indicated they would like the project back. Additionally, most of our community partners indicated they could only implement the project if it was fully funded outside their organizations since they serve persons below the poverty line.

Learn more about Forgotten Clefs.

Continue Reading

CD Review: Gems Of Italian Renaissance

Cantar alla Viola: Fernando Marín, viola da gamba, and Nadine Balbeisi, soprano.


Segreti Accenti Italian Renaissance Music
Cantar alla Viola (Nadine Balbeisi, soprano; Fernando Marín, bowed vihuelas and viol)
Quartz QT 2125

By Benjamin Dunham

This is definitely a CD to admire. Whether it is a CD to entertain will depend on what you are looking for.

As documentation of an almost-lost practice of the Renaissance — how to take a multi-part vocal work and play it with just a solo voice and a viola da gamba — it is worth its weight in gold. You won’t get tired of the gleaming voice of American-Jordanian soprano Nadine Balbeisi nor fail to admire the deft realizations of the other lines by Valencian gambist Fernando Marín. And there’s the added appeal of Marin’s instruments made by Javier Martínez: a 14th-century style viella, two sound-postless vihuele di arco of different sizes, and a copy of a 16th-century John Rose viola da gamba.

If the goal is to appreciate “all the sweetness” that is found in the solo voice (as Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier says of “cantare alla viola”), then goal accomplished.

But something is missing, and it’s not really the performers’ fault. These are mostly works by Luca Marenzio and Costanzo Festa whose full effect may depend on the combined harmonic strength of the different voices, their articulation, blend, etc., together with crescendos and decrescendos and other vocal techniques. For the most part, the solo soprano line was not conceived to hold your attention by itself, and in these realizations, the lines played on the viol don’t have the same synergy with the soprano as other voices would.

Our appreciation is not helped by the lack of words in the accompanying booklet, although the background for the realization of these pieces is well-explained and the instruments well-described.

Marín and Balbeisi

That said, there are a number of cherishable moments:

For example, a delicious falling phrase in Luca Marenzio’s “Amor tien il suo regno” mimics the passage in Josquin’s “La déploration de la mort de Johannes Ockeghem” (“Nymphes des bois”) that itemizes the great composer’s musical descendants. Hard to believe that Marenzio wouldn’t have been aware. And the madrigals by Luzzascho Luzzaschi, with their soloistic flourishes, and the earlier, spare, two-voice ballades by Magister Piero hold up especially well.

So, if you want to feel like a fly on the wall in a private home where these two wonderful artists are making music, it’s a wonderful feeling. But if you imagine yourself as a concert manager who happened to drop in, your first thought might not be to take this act on the road.

Formerly editor of American Recorder and Early Music America magazines, Benjamin Dunham has reviewed for Musical America, The Washington Post, and Gatehouse Media.


Continue Reading

Spem in Alium: the Flowering of English Polyphony

C4 (The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective), Voyces, St John’s Choir, Schiller Institute Chorale, Schola Cantorum on Hudson, Uptown Polyphony, and other choral ensembles join forces in a concert of both new music and English Renaissance music culminating in ‘Spem in Alium’, the 40-part motet by Thomas Tallis.

Continue Reading

Early Music America

Welcome back, please sign in:

Lost your password?
Not a Member? Join Today!
*Current EMA Members & EMAg Subscribers were sent specific instructions from our office on how to set up their new online account. Previous four digit usernames and passwords associated with our old website are no longer valid.
If you did not receive those instructions, please email Thank you!