Living Well in Litchfield County, Connecticut

Optime pastor
February 3, 2024

Optime pastor

aturday, February 3, at 3pm at Trinity Church, Lakeville, CT
Sunday, February 4, at 4pm at Saint James Place, Great Barrington, MA

The Renaissance is considered the Golden Era of vocal music. The evolution of polyphonic music (music with more than one independent melody sung at the same time) started in the early 15th century in the lowlands. Franco-Flemish composer and singer Johannes Ockeghem was one of the most influential European composers of his time, alongside contemporaries, such as Heinrich Isaac. They were succeeded by Josquin des Prez, a pioneer and great innovator in the technique of melodic imitation between voices. Polyphony spread in Western Europe, and English composers John Taverner and, later, Thomas Tallis excelled in this style. As new styles emerged over the course of the 16th century, Renaissance music began pushing boundaries by including chromaticism and ornamentation. In Italy, the polyphonic style was brought to Venice by the Flemish composer Adrian Willaert, and then reached its culmination with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso, the most published composer of the 16th century. While the 17th century brought a change away from polyphony, Claudio Monteverdi, the developer of the opera, made innovative use of polyphony, extending the rules beyond the conventions of the earlier masters.

This program features sacred four- to seven-voice works by these composers. A central subject in the program is the plea for peace, featured in several compositions: Taverner’s “In Pace” (In Peace shall I sleep and rest), and “Da Pacem Domine” (Give peace in our time), a motet by Lasso and also the main chant melody in Isaac’s “Optime pastor” (Shepherd, Maker of Good Virtue) motet. The low-voice ensemble typical of the era creates a dense texture with voices weaving in, out, and around each other. The Crescendo Vocal Ensemble, with Rachel Begley, dulzian, led by Christine Gevert from the organ, present this repertoire with 16 singers, as the transparency and clarity of the smaller group makes for a unique listening experience.

Trinity Church
484 Lime Rock Rd.
Lakeville, CT 06039

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