Magnificat to Perform Modern Premieres of the First Cantatas

January 12th, 2010 No comments

Newly Discovered Cantatas by Alessandro Grandi to be Sung by Soprano Laura Heimes

Soprano Laura Heimes

At Magnificat’s concerts on February 12-14 Bay Area audiences will have the opportunity to hear the first performances since the 17th century of five vocal works by Alessandro Grandi, including the first three pieces identified by a composer as “cantatas”. Soprano Laura Heimes will join with David Tayler and Hanneke van Proosdij for what will most likely be the first performances of these works in modern times.[1. News of our upcoming performances has created a buzz among musicologists studying the music of the 17th century and we have been informed that one of the cantatas, Amor, altri si duol, was in fact performed at the Bibliothèque musicale François-Lang in Royaumont, France on October 12, 2008. It is, of course, impossible to determine with complete certainty that the other works have not received a public performance and if we hear of any others, we will update this post.]

In his 1620 collection Cantade et Arie, Grandi used to the term “cantada” to distinguish three settings of strophic poetry for soprano and continuo. Each of the works – Amor altri si duol, Vanne vattene Amor and Udito han pur i Dei – employs a compositional strategy identified by musicologists as “strophic bass” cantatas, an example of strophic variation with which many composers were experimenting at the time. Read more…

The Producer Speaks: Impressions from the Cozzolani Recording Booth

January 10th, 2010 No comments
Peter Watchorn and Joel Gordon

The Men in the Booth: Peter Watchorn and Joel Gordon (photo by David Tayler)

Over recent weeks I have been re-discovering the amazing music of Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and the extraordinary talents of the ladies (and a few gentlemen) of Magnificat who brought it all to life. It seems hardly possible that the first of these recordings took place a decade ago, beginning in August 2000, marking one of Musica Omnia‘s very first projects (We began recording Jaap Schroeder and Penelope Crawford’s Atlantis Ensemble the same year.)

Having released two “liturgical” versions of a fairly hefty sampling of Cozzolani’s music from both 1642 and the grander collection of 1650, we are now finally mining the remaining wealth of material that we captured and preserved all those years ago in order to realize our original goal of presenting all the surviving music by this wonderful and unique composer, who for me exemplifies the second generation of composers of the Italian Baroque.

I can recall the atmosphere of friendly camaraderie between all the performers and their good-natured acceptance of myself as newly appointed (and relatively inexperienced) producer, fortunate to be working with the highly experienced (and fantastic) engineer/co-producer Joel Gordon, who created the “sound” for Musica Omnia and has continued to develop it right up to most recent release – our 30th. And working with Magnificat and Warren Stewart was a great joy – and an education. And, how great it was to simply spend time in the beautiful Bay Area.

I remember being amazed at the virtuosity of the singers, the imagination of the continuo team and the visionary direction of Warren Stewart, who radiated scholarship, practical knowledge and committed enthusiasm for this music with every gesture. It’s also great to recall the special sound created by having SATB music sung entirely by women, recreating the sounds that must have enlivened Chiara Margarita’s convent in Milan, spreading its fame far and wide. And what a cast: Catherine Webster, Meg Bragle, Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Karen Clark, Jennifer Lane, Deborah Rentz-Moore, Ruth Escher, Suzanne Jubenville, Andrea Fullington, Elizabeth Anker and Linda Liebschutz. Not to mention the exemplary continuo support of Hanneke van Proosdij, David Tayler and John Dornenburg. Read more…

Photos from Cozzolani Recording Sessions

January 8th, 2010 No comments

David Tayler has scanned some photos from the August 2001 Cozzolani recording sessions at St. Stephen’s in Belvedere – have a look.

Here’s a photo of “The Cast” from August 2001.

The Cast from August 2001

Warren Stewart, Elizabeth Anker, Suzanne Jubenville, Catherine Webster, Ruth Escher, Andrea Fullington, Hanneke van Proosdij, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Meg Bragle, John Dornenburg, and David Tayler

Magnificat to Feature Soprano Laura Heimes

January 7th, 2010 No comments

Soprano Laura Heimes

Magnificat’s February 12-14 concerts will feature soprano Laura Heimes in a recital of songs, cantatas and motets by Alessandro Grandi. Laura most recently sang with Magnificat in a program of Charpentier divertissements in October 2008. Her first appearances with Magnificat were in September 2005 in a program featuring setting’s of Guarini’s Il Pastor Fido.

Magnificat audience’s will especially remember her captivating performances in the title role of Stradella’s La Susanna in 2007. The San Francisco Classical Voice described her performance and the audience’s response in glowing terms:

“Soprano Laura Heimes alone was worth the price of a ticket. Her clear, expressive sound often soared beautifully above the ensemble. Her performance of the oratorio’s best number, “Da chi spero aita, O Cieli,” elicited spontaneous applause from at least one audience member (it could have been a touchdown). Stradella used a lamento bassline for this pivotal dramatic point of the oratorio…”

Praised elsewhere for her “sparkle and humor, radiance and magnetism” and hailed for “a voice equally velvety up and down the registers,” Laura is widely regarded as an artist of great versatility, with repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. She has collaborated with many of the leading figures in early music, including Andrew Lawrence King, Julianne Baird, Tempeste di Mare, The King’s Noyse, Paul O’Dette, Chatham Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, The New York Collegium, The Publick Musick, Brandywine Baroque, Trinity Consort, and Piffaro.

Laura has been heard at the Boston, Connecticut and Indianapolis Early Music Festivals, at the Oregon and Philadelphia Bach Festivals under the baton of Helmuth Rilling, at the Carmel Bach Festival under Bruno Weil, and in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil in concerts of Bach and Handel. With the Philadelphia Orchestra she appeared as Mrs. Nordstrom in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

Recent recordings featuring Laura include Cantatas Françoises (music of Jacquet de la Guerre and Clérambault) Handel Duets and Trios; Oh! the Sweet Delights of Love: the songs of Purcell with Brandywine Baroque; The Lass with the Delicate Air: English Songs from the London Pleasure Gardens; The Jane Austen Songbook with Julianne Baird; and Caldara’s Il Giuoco del Quadriglio with Julianne Baird and the Queen’s Chamber Band conducted by Stephen Altop.

For more about Laura Heimes visit her website LauraHeimes.com.

Click Here for Tickets and Concert Information

Cozzolani Project Releases New Track “Quis audivit unquam tale”

January 6th, 2010 No comments
Quis Audivit Bass page 1

The first page of Quis audivit unquam tale from the Bass part book

The Cozzolani Project is pleased to announce the release of a new track, the Christmas/Epiphany motet Quis audivit unquam tale.

As with most of the non-liturgical texts set by Cozzolani, the author of Quis audivit unquam tale is unknown, but there are references to Song of Songs 3:11 and the Gospel of John 1:14. The motet is notable for its variety of textures, alternating antiphonal motives and invertible counterpoint and florid declamatory writing with unexpected extensions of melodic ideas. Word painting for the parallel expressions of ascending and descending and for the contrast of the Kingdom of Heaven and the humble manger make this one of the most immediately attractive of Cozzolani’s works.

In the 1650 publication, Quis audivit unquam tale is scored for two sopranos and bass and Magnificat’s recording features Catherine Webster and Jennifer Ellis Kampani along with contralto Elizabeth Anker, who sings some of the bass part at pitch and some transposed up an octave. Magnificat first performed the motet in December 1999 on the San Francisco Early Music Society concert series, with recent performances last month on our own series.

Quis audivit unquam tale is available for streaming and download at The Cozzolani Project Music Page.

Urban Opera’s Dido and Aeneas Among San Francisco’s Top Classical Events of 2009

January 2nd, 2010 No comments
Jubilate at Urban Opera

Members of the Jubilate Orchestra "warming up" for Urban Opera's Dido and Aeneas

We were pleased to learn that Urban Opera’s production was named to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 10 Classical Music events of 2009. The Jubilate Orchestra was pleased to collaborate with Urban Opera in this innovative production.

The Chronicle’s music critic Joshua Kosman observed that “Conductor-director Chip Grant’s new company started life in style, with a theatrically vivid and musically splendid outdoor staging of Purcell’s opera.”

The performances took place in a sculpture garden between two office buildings by Mission Bay. In their review of one of the performances  The San Francisco Weekly noted that Bay Area audiences have the choice of a plethora of opera experiences and welcomed Urban Opera’s concept into the mix while acknowledging the climatic complications that the City by the Bay poses.

The Jubilate Orchestra is a project of Magnificat, providing period instrument accompaniment and performance practice consultation to arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a repertoire ranging from Gabrieli to Pärt, Jubilate has performed over 300 times in the past two decades.

New Magnificat Blog Design

December 30th, 2009 No comments

For the New Year, we’ve made some changes to the blog. We’ve added direct links to Magnificat on Facebook, Twitter, and Flikr. You can also listen to streaming audio of Magnificat by clicking on the Magnificat Radio tab. We hope you enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

Who has ever heard of such a thing?

December 24th, 2009 No comments

Who has ever heard of such a thing?
Who has ever seen something like this?
Marvel, O heaven;
Wonder, O earth;
Behold, O universe.

God has descended to flesh, and flesh has ascended to God.
The Word has become flesh.
The virgin adores Him whom she bore.

O deepest descent, O highest ascent!
He lies on hay in a manger Who sits on the throne of glory in heaven;
He mingles with rough animals Who is praised by angelic choirs;
He is quiet at His mother’s breast Who always speaks in the lap of His father.
He is hidden in a lowly stable, but is shown to the world by a shining star;
He is wrapped in swaddling clothes but is visited by kings;
He cries and weeps Who is the laughter and joy of Paradise.

Behold, what majesty, behold, what humility: majesty inside, humility outside, power inside, infancy outside, the riches of divinity inside, the poverty of humanity outside.
O true birth, most worthy of God and man!

Who has ever heard such a thing?
Who has ever seen something like this?

So let us, devoutly and humbly, adore Him with the shepherds, praise Him with the angels, let us praise the Solomonic King in the bodily diadem with which the virgin Mary, His mother, has crowned Him.

(Anonymous, set by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Quis audivit unquam tale?, 1650)

“Soften the voice as if, little by little, going away”

December 16th, 2009 No comments

Gloria in altissimis – New Release from The Cozzolani Project

Click Here to Listen and Download

First page of Gloria in altissimis from the Canto Primo part book. (Click for pdf of the complete facsimile parts.)

The Cozzolani Project’s first new release is the Christmas Dialogue Gloria in altissimis, one of the Cozzolani’s most immediately appealing works, in which she vividly captures the brilliance and wonder of the Christmas narrative. The anonymous text alludes to Luke 2:10 and 14, and in Cozzolani’s hands it is infused with a gleeful exuberance and a touch of chromatic mystery. The Angels (two sopranos) are “glorious” and the shepherds (scored for alto and tenor) are at first astonished and then jubilant.

After the shepherd’s initial encounter with the angels, increasingly expressive solos are given to the four voices in turn, sung on Magnificat’s recording by soprano Catherine Webster, alto Suzanne Jubenville, soprano Andrea Fullington, and alto Karen Clark, who sings the tenor part at notated pitch. David Tayler, theorbo and Hanneke van Proosdij, organ complete the ensemble.

In an almost theatrical gesture, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani instructs the four singers at the end to “soften the voice as if, little by little, going away” in imitation of  the Angelic choir disappearing as they ascend back to Heaven after announcing their good news to the awestruck shepherds.

Soften the Voice Read more…

Photos from Magnificat’s Cozzolani Performances

December 14th, 2009 No comments

We’ve uploaded photos from our wonderful week of Cozzolani to our Flickr page. Beyond the excellent musicians, we benefitted from assistance from a four footed advisor in Berkeley. Here’s a sample from the photo set:

Magnificat at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco

Sound Check at St. Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley

Berkeley Continuo Advisor

Meeting with the Audience

Monteverdi, Grandi and The Company of San Marco

December 10th, 2009 No comments

While reveling in the beauty of music from the past, we seldom consider the “office politics” and professional competition that surrounded its composition and original performance. The goal of simultaneously creating beauty and paying rent has always been proven challenging and even among highly respected and gainfully employed artists, competition has frequently led to conflict.

The Floor of the Basilica of San Marco

The Floor of the Basilica of San Marco, Venice

In his biographical sketch of Alessandro Grandi, published previously on this blog, Steven Saunders mentions the composer’s rapid rise to positions of authority at the Basilica of San Marco after returning from Ferrara in 1617. Among the positions that he attained was capo, or head, of the Compagnia di San Marco, a group not unlike a modern musicians’ union that organized singers for “freelance work” outside the basilica.

Already in the 15th Century, musical activity outside the Basilica had been organized through confraternities known as Scuole Grandi. In his seminal article on organizations of musicians in Venice, Jonathan Glixon relates that “sometime in the years before 1553 the singers of the ducal cappella organized themselves into two companies that competed for work at the Scuole and elsewhere. The rivalry between the two became intense and bitter, making it difficult not only for them to secure engagements, but also to work together at San Marco. The solution to this problem, and the ensuing resolutions, petitions, and counter- resolutions, are preserved in a fascinating series of documents that provides unique insights into the business of music in sixteenth- century Venice.” Read more…

SFCV Review: Milanese Mass and Motets

December 8th, 2009 1 comment

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

The San Francisco Classical Voice published the following review by Anna Carol Dudley. It is very gratifying to be recognized so graciously. Bravi tutti to Catherine, Meg, Jennifer, Kristen, Hugh and Hanneke – it was a wonderful week!

Catherine Webster, Meg Bragle, Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Kristen Dubenion-Smith

Magnificat’s dazzling singers have done it again. As part of their ongoing project to perform and record the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, four singers brought her glorious music vividly to life in a performance Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. The four women sang music that Cozzolani wrote for the famous singing nuns in her convent, Santa Radegonda, in 17th-century Milan.

Cozzolani’s setting of a Christmas Mass, In nativitate Domini (The birthday of the Lord), was written to be sung by a male celebrant — in this concert, Hugh Davies, whose expressive chant framed the work. The women formed a chorus, chanting in unison, then blossoming into a quartet to sing the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The quartets, originally sung by women, were published in Cozzolani’s time with tenor and bass parts, which have been given back to women in Magnificat’s performances.

The quartet for this concert consisted of sopranos Catherine Webster and Jennifer Ellis Kampani and altos Meg Bragle and Kristen Dubenion-Smith. Ellis Kampani sang the tenor parts transposed up, Bragle did some at pitch, and Dubenion-Smith, a real alto possessed of a lovely low range, sang bass, sometimes transposed and sometimes at pitch. A bass line provided by cellist Warren Stewart supported the harmony. Hanneke van Proosdij completed the continuo at the organ, playing with wonderful imagination, especially in a couple of solo motets. Read more…

Salmi Bizarri – The Life and Music of Cozzolani (Podcast)

December 5th, 2009 No comments

Magnificat’s recording Vespro della Beata Vergine included a third CD called “Beyond the Notes” – Salmi Bizarri: Cozzolani and the music of Milanese convents. Patterned on the talks that precede each Magnificat concert, on this CD I discussed aspects of Cozzolani’s life and music with musical examples.

This introduction to the life and music of Cozzolani is now available in streaming audio here:

Click Here to download this podcast

Announcing The Cozzolani Project

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

In 2000, Magnificat and Musica Omnia began recording the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. The Cozzolani Project is a continuation and expansion of that venture that will eventually make all of Cozzolani’s surviving compositions available as streaming audio and digital download.

Magnificat’s two CDs on the Musica Omnia label, Vespro della Beata Vergine and Messa Paschale included about half of Cozzolani’s surviving works. As a result, four psalms, another setting of the Magnificat, and eight motets remain to be released in two double CD box sets.

The recordings will be released both digitally and on physical CDs, with a complete recording of Cozzolani’s 1650 collection Salmi a otto voci due for release and shipment in Spring 2010 with her 1642 collection Concerti Sacri, due in Spring 2011. The previously unreleased tracks will become available for individually as they are completed.

In addition to the recordings we seek to promote a wider appreciation and deeper understanding of Cozzolani’s life and music and the cultural context in which she lived. The website Cozzolani.com which will serve as a resource of information about Cozzolani, scholarly work on music in convents in Italy and other related areas of study, news about performances and publications of her music and other materials related to this remarkable composer.

All those pre-ordering CDs from The Cozzolani Project will automatically receive codes and links enabling free digital downloads of all tracks – those previously released and those currently in preparation as they become available.

All digital downloads are available in a variety of lossless formats – FLAC, AIFF, WAV and more. In additional to pre-ordering each individual track is available for download as well.

Pre Order and Subscribe Today!

Chiara Margarita Cozzolani Gets a Facebook Page

November 22nd, 2009 No comments

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

By all accounts the nuns at the convent of Santa Radegonda in the 17th Century did not have internet access and so it had to wait until the 21st century for Chiara Margarita Cozzolani to launch get her own Facebook page. With her birthday coming up on November 27th in seemed like an especially appropriate time. As Magnificat prepares for our upcoming performances of  phenomenal music of the Benedictine nun from Santa Radegonda, it occurred to us that she deserved a Facebook page. Please visit and become a fan!

Magnificat has benefited tremendously from Robert Kendrick’s path-breaking research into convent music in Milan as well as the work of other scholars like Colleen Reardon, Craig Monson, Gabriella Zarri, Ann Mather, and so many others who have helped us developed a deeper appreciation for the music written and performed in convents in the 17th Century. We are also grateful for the excellent work of Candace Smith and Capella Artemesia not only in performing Cozzolani’s music but also making it available, along with the music of other cloistered composers of the period, through Artemesia Editions.

When Magnificat first performed Cozzolani’s music in 1999 as part of the San Francisco Early Music Society concert series, there had been very few performances of her music. Over the past decade she has begun to received the attention she so richly deserves. We will be trying to draw attention to other performances and recordings that we hear about.

While Magnificat created the page and will maintain it, we are looking forward to posts from musicians, scholars, and music lovers across the globe who have been inspired by Cozzolani’s music. So, while it’s a bit Magnificat-centric to begin with, we are hoping to hearfrom the many others who are involved in performing, studying and enjoying Cozzolani’s extraordinary music.

Magnificat at The Early Music Musician's Bazaar

November 22nd, 2009 No comments

(click for larger image)

Magnificat will be participating in the second annual Early Music Musician’s Bazaar. Among the delights available for purchase will be CD’s, concert tickets, sheet music & lots of other fun stuff.  The Bazaar will take place from 10 am to 3 pmon Saturday December 12 at MusicSources, 1000 The Alameda, Berkeley. It’s a great opportunity for holiday shopping that will support the Bay Area early music community,

As one of the organizers (and Magnificat musician) Hanneke van Proosdij explains, “it’s a community event bringing together the early music groups and supporting the local musicians. Basically there are a bunch of vendor tables spread out throughout the entire lower floor of MusicSources. People can drop in, peruse the stuff, hang out and eat way too much chocolate.”

The stellar list of participants in the Bazaar includes Cançonièr, Ensemble Vermillian, Farallon Recorder Quartet , The Festival Consort, Glen Shannon Music, Healing Muses, Junior Recorder Society, La Monica, Les Grâces, Musica Pacifica, San Francisco Early Music Society, Shira Kammen, and Voices of Music.

You can visit the Early Music Musician’s Bazaar on Facebook.

Chiara Margarita Cozzolani in her World

November 18th, 2009 No comments

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

In November 2002, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani’s birth, Magnificat hosted a conference on Women and Music in 17th Century Italy at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. In additions to two performances by Magnificat, four scholars presented papers on aspects of the role of women in musical life in Italy during the period. Robert Kendrick, whose research has contributed tremendously to our understanding of Cozzolani and the musical culture in Milan in general, contributed this article and has graciously granted permission to repost it here.

Robert Kendrick

Robert Kendrick

We are here to examine the diversity of nuns’ culture in early modern Italy, on the immediate occasion of roughly the 400th anniversary of one sister’s birth—that of the Milanese Benedictine Chiara Margarita Cozzolani—and of the performances of her music brought to you this weekend by Magnificat. If there is anything that we have learned over the past fifteen years of study, it is that the work of any single nun has to be informed by the conditions of family status, local and institutional history, and musical trends of the time. My other colleagues here present will give you some idea of the diverse traditions and problems of female monastic culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, and so I would like to place Cozzolani’s output in her world—familial, institutional, musical.

It is impossible, however, not to look for personal and individual traits in the production—musical or other—of nuns. In the case of Cozzolani, this is still a rather frustrating experience, precisely because of the lack of detailed information about her background, musical training and activity, and life trajectory. Other musical nuns of the century – Lucrezia Vizzana, Claudia Rusca, Maria Francesca Piccolomini – have left, directly or indirectly, far more documentation about their lives, public and personal.

Duomo and Santa Radegonda

The Duomo in Milan with the convent of Santa Radegonda on the left.

Central to the person she would become was her family. The most recent documentary fragments I have found in the Milanese archives testify to the presence of her family in Milan from the 15th century onwards, although they do not give us the exact trade or profession of family members.  What is clear, however, is that her ancestors were not members of the patrician nobility, and therefore they were excluded from the city’s Senate and other legislative bodies. It is most likely that they were well-off merchants or artisans at the very top of  their social class, rich enough to afford workshops in the center of town and to send their daughters—both in Chiara’s generation and the ones before and after her—into the high-class convent of S. Radegonda, where she would have rubbed shoulders with women of superior caste status. The so-called “spiritual dowry” necessary for the admission of a young woman into this house was at the most expensive levels of the time, and since Chiara had a older sister who professed her vows at the convent about four years earlier, the family would have had to come up with a good amount of money in a short time, between 1615 and 1619, the respective beginning of the novitiate year for the two sisters.  Read more…

Jubilate to Perform Bach's Magnificat and Christmas Oratorio with San Francisco Choral Society

November 17th, 2009 No comments

The San Francisco Choral Society

On December 5th and 6th, the Jubilate Orchestra will join with The San Francisco Choral Society for performances of Parts 4-6 of J.S. Bach’s magnificent Christmas Oratorio. The concerts complete the cycle begun a year ago when the first half of the oratorio and continue a long relationship between the two ensembles. Jubilate performed Bach’s Magnificat with the Choral Society in 2004.

Like Magnificat, the San Francisco Choral Society was established in 1989 and since then has shared their joy and enthusiasm for choral music with more than 60,000 concertgoers. The Choral Society’s year-round program offers singers the opportunity to perform major choral works with professional orchestras and soloists in front of live audiences. They also provide low-cost music instruction to our singers in the form of classes and workshop and a student internship program.

Jubilate has worked with the Choral Society’s director Robert Geary in numerous projects over the past two decades. In addition to concerts with the Choral Society, Geary conducts the Piedmont East Bay Childrens Choirs and Volti – both choirs that regularly collaborate with Jubilate.

For more information about the San Francisco Choral Society and the upcoming concerts please visit their website.

Considering Athanasius Kircher at AMS Philadelphia

November 8th, 2009 No comments

Representing Magnificat, I will be attending the annual conference of the American Musicological Society in Philadelphia this later this week. It has been several years since I’ve had the opportunity to attend the AMS conference and I am looking forward to meeting old colleagues, making new friends and listening to the wide range of presentations on current work being done in musicology. The conference program is available for download (PDF) and the abstracts for papers can be downloaded here (PDF). Over the week I will be highlighting some of the sessions relevant to the music and culture of the 17th Century and posting abstracts from the scheduled papers.

Kircher - guido's Hand

Guido's Hand from Kircher, Musurgia universalis (1650)

A particularly interesting short session on the fascinating figure Athanasius Kircher scheduled for the opening afternoon of the conference. I encountered Kircher while preparing the first program on the very first Magnificat series concert in 1992, which included Carissimi’s magnificent oratorio Jephte. In his monumental Musurgia universalis (1650) Kircher mentions Jephte and also reproduced the music for the final chorus, Plorate filii Israel, citing it as an example of excellent rhetorical style and providing musicologists with a convenient terminus ante quem for the dating of Carissimi’s masterpiece. Since then, details of Kircher’s fantastic and curious engravings have occasionally  made their way into Magnificat’s programs, websites, and brochures, including his representation of Guido’s hand.

Recent scholarly interest in Kircher has resulted in a wealth of resources on the web. Stanford University hosts a website project devoted to Kircher, with a wealth of information and selection of images from works by and related to Athanasius Kircher present in the collections of Stanford University Libraries. Fr. Edward W. Schmidt, SJ has published an excellent book Athansius Kircher: The Last Renaissance Man, the website for which includes many of Kircher’s engravings. The useful website Kircherianum Virtuale provides links to a many sites devoted to the Kircher. Read more…

Re-Composing Cozzolani – Magnificat to Perform Modern Premiere of Lost Work

November 6th, 2009 2 comments

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

O Praeclara dies Page 1

The first page of "O Præclara dies"

We are fortunate that Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, unlike most of the nuns composing for convents in the 17th century, had the opportunity to publish some of her music. Had her works not been printed on the press of Venetian publisher Alessandro Vincenti, they would most likely have met the same fate of the vast majority of music recorded solely in manuscript – lost in a fire, sold as scrap paper, or simply discarded when musical fashions changed.

Only two of Cozzolani’s four published collections survived into modern times complete: Concerti Sacri … (1642), which includes the four voice Mass that Magnificat will perform in December, and Salmi a Otto Voci … (1650), from which the psalms in our Vespers programs are drawn. Sadly, the one part book from her first publication of motets Primavera di fiori musicali (1640) that survived into the 20th Century was destroyed in 1945 along with the entire Berlin Singakademie library. However, in the case of her collection of solo motets Scherzi di Sacra Melodia … (1648), we still have the soprano part book, though the basso continuo part book has been lost.

Over the past decade that Magnificat has been performing and recording Cozzolani’s music, there have been three previous programs on which we have performed motets from the Scherzi with newly “re-composed” continuo parts. In our upcoming performances on the weekend of December 4-6, Catherine Webster will sing the Christmas motet O præclara dies from the 1648 collection in what will most likely be a modern premiere. Read more…