Songs that travel and songs that stay - Avila, Spain

Monday, Aug 26th 2019 - 8:00pm
The music in this program gives us an insight into the international nature of the music profession, not only nowadays but also in the Renaissance. Most of the music is sacred, but we begin and end with secular works: a song about a battle and some vivid settings of the poet Lorca. In these two pieces the first texts transports us to Italy, and the latter to Spain; and yet Isaac was born in Flanders and Rautavaara in Finland. The three pieces we sing by Arvo Pärt also take us to different places: to Mexico and the Virgin of Guadalupe in ‘Virgencita’; to Russia, or at least the Russian Orthodox Church, in ‘Habitare fratres’ — which is sung in Russian despite its Latin title; and to Pärt’s Estonia for ‘And I heard a voice’, which is sung in Estonian despite its English title. There is also a Spanish connection here, for this work was composed for Ars Nova Copenhagen and first performed by them in Salamanca last year for the 800 year anniversary of the University. Fernando Franco was born in Spain, but emigrated to the New World and made a distinguished career first in Guatemala and then in the cathedral of Mexico City. Even Victoria, who is rightly seen as the greatest Spanish composer of the Renaissance, spent the formative years of his career in Rome. 
It is finally only the anonymous Italian laude which seem to have remained fully rooted in one place and one language. Cortona is an ancient Tuscan hill-town situated close to the border with Umbria. Its history is inseparably linked with the Franciscan order that was he settled in Assisi. In 1210 Saint Francis himself went to Cortona to preach to the people of the city. The  laude that we sing are part of an extensive collection that was compiled during the 13th century, known as the Laudario di Cortona. The original singers of this music would have been members of a confraternity (of which there were many) who held meetings to sing spiritual songs and sometimes went on singing processions through town and countryside. 


Heinrich Isaac Alla Battaglia
Fernando Franco Magnificat
Laude di Cortona Cristo e nato
Venite a laudare
Heinrich Isaac Tota pulcra es
Laude di Cortona Laude Novella
Sia laudate San Francesco
Arvo Pärt

And I Heard a Voice
Habita fratres et unum
Tomás Luis de Victoria

Alma redemptoris mater
O magnum mysterium
Salve Regina
Einojuhani Rautavaara Lorca Suite