Orlandus Lassus was a remarkable composer, scholar, linguist and arranger and conductor of music; he was also a great and influential teacher of composers such as the Gabrieli, both Andrea and Giovanni. Ennobled by kings, and knighted by a Pope, he nonetheless remained the loyal servant of the Bavarian court at Munich for most of his life, directing and writing for the largest musical household in Europe. Composing with all the passion and flair of his Italian contemporaries (whose works he also arranged and conducted in Munich), Lassus used a wider instrumental palette, especially embracing the full range of wind instruments from recorders and flutes to windcaps, racketts and dulcians. His select group of singers were amongst the most renowned in Europe, famous for their subtlety and their intonation!
We will study works written by the master, alongside music by others (including his pupils) which we know he conducted. Lassus's works will form the core of the course: ranging from bawdy carnival songs, through achingly beautiful French chansons and powerful motets, to his take on the polychoral style introduced to him by the Gabrieli; but we will also celebrate him as conductor and champion of other composers' works, such as the splendidly sumptuous 24-part Mass by Annibale Padovano. Towards the end of his life, this extraordinary man became reflective, even (to the concern of his devoted wife) depressed. His last work was an immense setting of 21 stanzas from Tansillo's epic cycle Le Lagrime di San Pietro (The Tears of St Peter), and some of these too will be studied, by singers, viols and lutes.
The course welcomes singers and players of viols, lutes, recorders, renaissance flutes and reeds, cornetts and sackbuts, and keyboard. (A regal, a harpsichord and a (good quality) electronic organ will be available for keyboard players, who should be able to score-read and willing to explore!) Join us as we explore why it was that great composers and musicians of his day came to study with Orlandus Lassus.
Each day of the course will be divided between sectional rehearsals (directed by our specialist tutors) and ensembles, both large and small. The after-dinner sessions might include informal performances of works covered in the day, as well as exploring early dance and working on large-scale pieces in which all the course members will take part.
The tutors will offer coaching and workshops on all aspects of renaissance ensemble performance. Music will be provided, but you are also invited to bring your own sets of parts and scores if you wish. Please indicate on the application form if there are particular pieces or composers you wish to study.
Our tutors are exceptionally inspiring and enthusiastic, and will immerse you in the music of renaissance Italy.
'The great Philip Thorby' (Early Music Review), a powerhouse of energy and inspiration, will coach the choir and large ensembles. Philip is Director of Musica Antiqua of London and a superb performer on both viol and recorder; he is also an unrivalled singing tutor and director.
David Hatcher David Hatcher studied viola da gamba with Charles Medlam and recorder with Philip Thorby. He has performed with Harmonie Universelle, The New London Consort, and Fretwork. He has recorded prolifically, and also teaches early dance. David will work with viol players and mixed ensembles.
Emma Murphy is our recorder expert, and will also work with mixed ensembles. Emma, herself a CEM 'graduate', works with the Gabrieli Consort, King's Consort and Ex Cathedra as well as with many chamber groups, in particular the trio Da Camera.
Frances Eustace is a distinguished performer and musicologist (as well as being a marathon runner). Her instruments include bassoons, curtals, shawms, recorders, crumhorns, viols, rebecs and violin, viola, bagpipes, and pipe and tabor.
Stewart McCoy has an MMus in historical musicology and an ARCM in lute teaching. He regularly performs and teaches on courses at home and abroad. He has contributed articles to Early Music and The Lute, and has edited music for many publishers.
We welcome applications from competent singers, and from players of renaissance instruments at A=440 including viols, lutes, recorders, renaissance flutes, reeds, cornetts and sackbuts, and keyboard. Recorder players should be familiar with all sizes (descant to bass), unless offering another instrument or voice as well; renaissance recorders are strongly preferred. Viol players are encouraged to bring renaissance as well as baroque instruments; please let us know which sizes you can bring. It might be possible to borrow renaissance viols during the course. All applicants should have a good standard of sight-reading and be able to hold a line confidently on their own. Singers may be encouraged to take solo parts as well as singing in ensembles. Those applying as instrumentalists will also have opportunities to sing if they wish. If you are at all unsure about your standard, please email or phone +44 (0) 1223 847330 to discuss.
The course will begin with a lute recital by Stewart McCoy at 14:00 on Sunday 11th August. The tutors will give a full-length concert on Wednesday 14th August. On the final evening all course members will participate in an informal concert, in which we will perform a selection of the pieces studied during the week. All concerts are open to the public, and course participants attend them free of charge. There will be a party after the final concert. (See Concerts for further details.) There will be a party after the final concert.
Participants should aim to arrive in time for the recital at 14:00 on Sunday 11th August, which will be followed by the first teaching session at 16:30. Most days there is a free period of 2-3 hours after lunch, for practice, ad hoc music-making or rest, but the remainder of each day is filled with music from morning to night! The course ends with breakfast on Saturday 17th August (or after the Friday night party for non-residents).
The residential charge, including all dinners, tea and coffee, tuition and concerts, for the week is £680. The charge for an en-suite single room is £860 per head, and for a twin en-suite £770 per head for the week. Local residents and others finding their own bed and breakfast accommodation pay £570. Observers pay £40 less. Daily charges are available on request. Some financial assistance may be available: please see Bursaries.
Please apply as early as possible, as places are limited. Applications may be acknowledged but not accepted until April, by when we hope to have a workable balance of voices and instruments. You will then be informed if your application has succeeded, and your deposit will be returned if not.
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Selene Mills, Trinity College, Cambridge CB2 1TQ, UK
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