“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola


Last Wednesday the second Saint John's Concert 2010/11 was given by the choir Musica Contexta.

The concert concentrated on Marian anthems from the Golden Age of the Sistine Chapel, the musical crucible of Renaissance Europe.  The choir sang from one large copy of the score. To a modern man these manuscripts look unusual; instead of having the parts vertically aligned, so singers can see their position in the score, the parts are arranged one after the other. Experimenting with this format this evening the choir might seem to be guilty not just of reinventing the wheel, but of retrialing a square one. Yet every early musician knows that 'progress' is merely a chimera: that things in the past were done differently for good reason, and this will only become apparent when they try to recreate the conditions in which the music was first performed.  This was the spirit of this performance.

The programme was as follows:
Salve regina (chant)
Ave maris Stella, Ave Regina (Guillaune du Fay, 1397-1474)
Alma Redemptoris Mater (chant)
Alma Redemptoris Master, Ave regina Caelorum ( Josquin des Prez, c.1450-15221)
Benedicta es (Josquin des Prez)
Virgo Prudentissima (Elzear Carpentras, 1470-1548)
Regina Caeli (Andreas de Silva, c.1475-c.1530)
Inviolata (Costanzo Festa, c.1495-1545)
Regina Caeli (Jacques Arcadelt, 1507-1568)
Sancta Maria (Cristobal de Morales, c.1500-1553)
Virgo Prudentissima (Giovanni de Palestrina, c.1525-1594)
The video below gives some glorious highlights from the concert.

Music Contexta's next CD for Chandos, "Roma Sancta" featuring music by Arcadelt, de Silva and Palestrina, is due for release in February 2011.

The next Musica Contexta concert is on 27th January 2011.

Next month's concert is by the boys' choir of Arnold House School.  See link in the sidebar for details.