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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monteverdi Vespers!

Friday, Oct. 29 I will conduct the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with the UNT Collegium Singers, members of the Baroque Orchestra and added instrumental guests.

This isn't unique in this 400th anniversary year! There are literally hundreds of performances across the country. But it's such a great and unique masterpiece that it's wonderful it's getting so many performances. I hope they won't slow down too much after this year.

I have a long history with the Vespers, first conducting it in 1976 in Seattle--with sackbuts and cornetti. It wasn't the best of performances, but I learned a lot and did another in 1978 which was very good by the standards of the time. It was done by Seattle Pro Musica as a pre-convention concert for the National AGO (American Guild of Organists) convention. We performed in St. Mark's Cathedral, which at that time had a fabulous space at the front of a very resonant church, including an extension, which made a great place to perform.

I had very good soloists and instrumentalists. Stephen Stubbs, who's gone on to fame with his ensemble, Tragicomedia, and as co-director of the Boston Early Music Festival, played the Vespers for the first time on his first chittarone, just before leaving for Europe.

The next time I did the Vespers was in Edmonton in 2000 with Pro Coro Canada, tenors Paul Elliott and Colin Balzer, the Whole Noyse Consort, and Ray Nurse's Pacific Baroque Orchestra. This was a terrific performance, the first in Edmonton (in Alberta, actually).

The work has such unique instrumentation that the pros who play this work have been getting lots of work this year. The members of the Whole Noyse Consort (with whom I've done both the Vespers and Orfeo) have been traveling the country (and Canada) doing performances this year--I think close to 50.

Some other time I'll talk about the challenges of doing this work--suffice it to say that it's worth it in every way!