Academy of Sacred Drama
Sunday, January 13, 2019, 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church
Jeremy Rhizor, director and violin
Three singers and seven instrumentalists
Mosè: La creatione de’ magistrati
Director Jeremy Rhizor’s mission is to create an enriching and totally original experience for listeners. He combines a 17th-century oratorio, Giovanni Antonio Gianettini’s La creatione de’ magistrati in a modern-day premiere, with an informative lecture at its midpoint, and a reception for the audience after the performance. The oratorio’s text is enlightening: the prophet Moses learns hard lessons about governance.
Mid-concert lecture by Alice Jarrard and post-concert dessert
“At the front, the violinist [Jeremy Rhizor] serves as conductor, marking tempo with knee bends and nods…. The piece is lovely, ornate and contrapuntal. The scene is shadowed and intimate, another quiet moment of excellent New York music-making.”
Estimated Run Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes including lecture and one intermission.
Artist Bios and Program
The Academy of Sacred Drama subverts convention by exploring sacred dramatic music as a membership organization rather than a performing ensemble. This approach has enabled unusually ambitious projects such as the production of an open license journal devoted to sacred drama. Last season’s journals helped to develop a richer understanding of the deuterocanonical and Baroque conceptions of Judith for modern readers and audiences. This season’s journal will explore Moses in sacred dramatic music as well as Moses art housed in New York City.
The Academy’s creation of editions and translations of little-known Baroque oratorios and cantatas has enabled the frequent presentation of modern and American premieres of these works paired with lectures and receptions. The Academy’s 2017-2018 Year of Judith featured the modern day premiere of Domenico Freschi’s Giuditta, the American premiere of Antonio Draghi’s Oratorio di Giuditta at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and a program of rarely heard Judith cantatas of the French Baroque. The Academy was featured in that first season in an article in Commonweal Magazine, and its artistic decisions were declared “striking” by the New York Times.
2018-2019 is the Academy’s Year of Moses and features another set of premieres of large-scale musical works. Oratorios by Vincenzo de Grandis and Giovanni Antonio Gianettini will be presented for the first time in more than 300 years. The Academy will also perform the American premiere of an oratorio by Bernardo Pasquini and a program of rarely heard Moses cantatas of the French Baroque. This initial phase of the Academy explores little-known Baroque repertory through a variety of professional collaborations.
In future seasons, the Academy will publish editions of historical sacred dramatic music and translations with open licenses and will expand its research of the repertory as well as its educational activities to medieval sources, modern commissions, and explorations of the place of drama within and outside of Christian liturgies. Starting in 2020, the organization’s artistic process will focus on curated seasons designed to take artistic risks and to challenge commonly held assumptions about music, drama, and society.
Jeremy Rhizor is a violinist, the founder and artistic director of the Academy of Sacred Drama, and the publisher of the Academy’s sacred drama journal. He has led the modern-day and American premieres of Baroque oratorios by Bassani, de Grandis, Draghi, Freschi, and Pasquini. Past seasons included a performance for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Music Before 1800, a recital tour in Nova Scotia, and the Swedish premiere of an oratorio by Pasquini.
Countertenor Daniel Moody has been praised for his “vocal resonance, [which] makes a profoundly startling impression” (New York Times) and for his “vivid and powerful” voice (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Recent highlights include two operas with Mark Morris Dance Group, engagements with Les Violons du Roy, Apollo’s Fire, Illinois Symphony, and Great Music in a Great Space Series. Upcoming debuts include Cincinnati Opera’s production of L’incoronatione di Poppea (Valetto/Nerone), Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, and concerts with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony.
Sara MacKimmie Tomlin is a Washington, DC-based soprano. Recent highlights include a Vivaldi Gloria with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, several oratorios with the Academy of Sacred Drama, Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres with the Denver Early Music Consort, music from the court of Henry VIII with Mountainside Baroque, and several engagements with New York Baroque Incorporated. She also performs with Kinnara Ensemble, the Peabody Consort, Washington DC Chantry, and the Washington Bach Consort and serves as a chorister at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Described as a “rich-voiced” and “vivid” singer by a recent New York Times review, Peter Walker performs with the Handel & Haydn Society, Three Notch’d Road, Clarion Society Choir, Kuhmo Kamarimusiiki, Staunton Music Festival, Early Music New York, Skylark Ensemble, Texas Early Music Project, Gotham Early Music, Apollo’s Fire, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and Stamford Symphony. Peter is a founding member of the medieval ensemble Marginalia and has lectured on early music at Vassar College and the University of Virginia. He holds degrees from Vassar College and McGill University.
The Academy of Sacred Drama‘s oratorio performances move beyond passive entertainments to engaging experiences of cultural value through the organization’s rediscovery of forgotten musical treasures, restoration of historical performance formats, and unification of high-quality music-making with social and intellectual exploration. Believed to be the first performance of Giovanni Antonio Gianettini’s La Creatione de’ Magistrati since its Modenese premiere in 1688, the Academy’s January 13th performance will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the revival of this masterful full-scale work in a format that parallels its premiere. The social and intellectual dimensions of La Creatione will be explored through a contextual lecture set between oratorio halves and a reception that will follow the performance.
Alice Jarrard—a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based art historian and author—will be the guest speaker, and her talk will replace the sermon that was often delivered between oratorio halves in performances of the Italian Baroque. Jarrard’s book Architecture as Performance in Seventeenth-Century Europe: Court Ritual in Modena, Rome, and Paris explores the relationship between art and state-craft in the Modena of Duke Francesco d’Este—an opportune topic for an oratorio that identifies the characteristics of capable leaders and calls for responsible leadership.