Viol Player

Viola da Gamba Society—New England
Winter Workshop 2014

Motets (and Masses)
On Viols

Slosberg Music Building
Brandeis University, Waltham MA
Sunday, January 12, 2014

Music Director: Loren Ludwig
Coordinator: Joan Boorstein
Featuring Wendy Gillespie, Larry Lipnik,
Loren Ludwig, ZoeWeiss

English consort music was deeply influenced by the distinctive musical language of church polyphony—the masses and motets sung by men and boys as part of the liturgy. Even after the Reformation pushed Catholic ritual music underground, the style persisted in publications by Byrd and Tallis, in the select English chapels that were allowed to continue to celebrate in Latin, and in manuscripts of music for both voices and viols. Many of the 16th C. English manuscripts that contain consort music, in fact, also contain motets (and occasionally masses!) by English and continental composers, some copied without words—a practice that suggests instrumental performance.

This workshop will use viols to explore the beautiful and diverse music of the English church (both Catholic and Protestant). Class offerings will focus on fabulous music that is less well known to modern viol players but that was of central importance in the development of consort music’s musical idioms. 

Class Offerings included:

Eton Choir Book. Dating from the first years of the 16th century, the ECB is one of the few surviving collections of pre-Reformation English polyphony. Come tangle with these complex and beautiful pieces from the “lost” generation of the very earliest Tudor composers. 5-8 advanced players

Plainsong Canons. The many published and unpublished volumes of “canons to the plainsong”—multi-part imitative pieces composed around bits of chant—present something of a mystery: are they virtuosic compositional miniatures? Disguised secret Catholic code? Practice pieces for young musicians? Explore this fun and fascinating repertory of musical brain teasers. Any number, any level.

When David Heard.
Spend a period with the famous settings byWeelkes and Tomkins of this amazing text. 5 intermediate-advanced players.

Choice Psalms. Enjoy tuneful 4-part Psalm settings by a who’s who of Elizabethan composers (Tallis, Dowland, Farmer, Kirbye, etc.). These pieces are musically approachable and distinctly English with their sweet harmonies and aching cross relations. Doubling possible. 4-8 Advanced beginner-Lower intermediate players.

Early Byrd. Explore Byrd’s earliest published sacred music as well as works by Thomas Tallis from their collaborative 1575 publication, Cantiones Sacrae.

From Motet to Fantasy. Trace the evolution from vocal to instrumental style with works by Byrd, Parsons, Taverner and Tallis.

Great Motets from the Dow Partbooks. This justly famous collection of 5 partbooks contains gorgeous music by composers including Byrd, White, Tye, and Tallis and represents a high water mark of Tudor polyphony. Facsimiles will be available for those who would like to read from original notation.

Byrd Masses. William Byrd published three masses—one each a3, a4, and a5—that sound wonderful on viols. Doubling possible. LI-UI.

This is the Record of Gibbons. Gibbons’ anthems combine the sobriety of the liturgical style with the composers’ unique tunefulness and rhythmic vitality. Everyone will play, some may also sing (please specify if you’d like to sing as well as play and tell us your vocal range). 5-6 intermediate to advanced players.

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