Summer Reflections, Autumn (and beyond) Anticipations

When I was a teacher the Summer break (never use the phrase ‘Summer Holiday’ to a teacher – it isn’t) was for reviewing and preparation. I’ve found this habit hard to break, not that I’ve particularly wanted to do so. However, this year’s pause in Ripieno activities was a welcome one as last year we didn’t really stop but were busy filming, and then preparing for our memorable week in Barcelona.

Not that I ever actually stop. I’ve started working with our new Apprentice Conductor (a unique post, as far as we know) and done much programme-planning, of which more shortly.

My reading has been something of a catch-up exercise – two editions of the heavyweight Early Music and the last ever printed edition (it’s now online only) of the quirky Early Music Review, for which I also write.

Given my love of Victoria’s music it was inevitable that a group of articles on the music of Renaissance Iberia (Early Music, vol. XVIII, no. 1) would catch my eye. Although I have regularly observed in programme notes that unaccompanied voices, although the modern norm, was only one of the ways in which Victoria and his contemporaries performed their music I was startled to read that in one cathedral the hymns were surprisingly varied (article by J P d’Alvarenga). Composers usually wrote music for alternate hymn verses, leaving the others to be sung to the traditional plainchant. We have always taken the ‘conservative’ option of choir for the composed verses, but other options used within the same hymn on the same occasion could include doubling or replacing some of the voice parts with the organ (vv 2,6 &10) or a wind ensemble (vv 4,8) still leaving the odd-numbered verses to be chanted. It was also interesting to read about Victoria’s shameless self-promotion (article by D V Filippi) – even another Victoria (Mrs Beckham) might learn a thing or two from him.

Ripieno programme-planning, at least in draft, now runs to June 2017! March 2017 has the working title ‘This music shouldn’t exist’ (Latin motets from Jacobean England) – some marvellous pieces including a few from ‘one-hit wonders’ such as George Kirbye (Vox in Rama) but also contributions from Byrd and Tomkins. We’ll follow that with music from all over Europe with a composer list that currently includes Arvo Pärt, Josef Gabriel Rheinberger, Olivier Messiäen and Rudolf Mauersberger (June 2017)!

Meanwhile, with rehearsals about to start, it’s time to focus on Venice.

Do note the date now, and watch for my next blog posting in which I’ll say something about how the programme came together, as well as the less familiar composers and music.