Blue Heron

Sunday, February 10, 2019, 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church

Scott Metcalfe, director
Thirteen-voice choir

The Lost Music of Canterbury

Director Scott Metcalfe loves big, comprehensive projects. He and Boston’s much-praised Blue Heron have released five CDs of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, significant because some of the parts had been missing for years, rendering entire works unperformable. Thanks to careful scholarship, we’ll hear pieces in premiere by Hugh Aston and Arthur Chamberlayne alongside music of Fayrfax and Taverner.

Post-concert Q and A

“I cannot recommend this superb CD [Vol. 2 of the Peterhouse series] highly enough—it is the sort of recording to listen to in awe at the sustained and unerring skill of the performers and the burgeoning brilliance of the composers… and to shed a quiet tear for the untold treasures that have been lost.”

—Early Music Review (UK)

Estimated Run Time: 90 minutes including one intermission.

Artist Bios and Program

Blue Heron

Blue Heron has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in the New Yorker for its “expressive intensity.” Committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices, Blue Heron ranges over a wide repertory from plainchant to new music, with particular specialities in 15th-century Franco-Flemish and early 16th-century English polyphony. Blue Heron’s first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in 2007. In 2010 the ensemble inaugurated a 5-CD series of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, including many world-premiere recordings of works copied c. 1540 for Canterbury Cathedral; the fifth disc was released in March 2017 and was selected as a Critic’s Choice of 2017 by Gramophone. Blue Heron’s recordings also include a CD of plainchant and polyphony to accompany Thomas Forrest Kelly’s book Capturing Music: The Story of Notation and the live recording Christmas in Medieval England. Jessie Ann Owens (UC Davis) and Blue Heron won the 2015 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society to support a world premiere recording of Cipriano de Rore’s first book of madrigals (1542), planned for release in fall 2019. A recording of the complete songs of Johannes Ockeghem is also in the works.

Founded in 1999, Blue Heron presents a concert series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has appeared at the Boston Early Music Festival; in New York City at Music Before 1800, The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and the 92nd Street Y; at the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.; at the Berkeley Early Music Festival; at Yale University; and in San Luis Obispo, Seattle, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Providence. The ensemble has also performed in the UK at both Peterhouse and Trinity College in Cambridge and at Lambeth Palace Library, at the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Blue Heron has been in residence at the Center for Early Music Studies at Boston University and at Boston College, and has enjoyed collaborations with A Far Cry, Dark Horse Consort, Les Délices, Parthenia, Piffaro, and Ensemble Plus Ultra. In 2015 the ensemble embarked on a multi-season project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497). Entitled Ockeghem@600, it will wind up around 2021, in time to commemorate the composer’s circa-600th birthday.

John Yannis, manager

Scott Metcalfe

Scott Metcalfe has gained wide recognition as one of North America’s leading specialists in music from the 15th through 17th centuries and beyond. Musical and artistic director of Blue Heron, he was also been music director of New York City’s Green Mountain Project (Jolle Greenleaf, artistic director) and a guest director of TENET (New York), the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Emmanuel Music (Boston), the Tudor Choir and Seattle Baroque, Pacific Baroque Orchestra (Vancouver, BC), Quire Cleveland, the Dryden Ensemble (Princeton, NJ), and Early Music America’s Young Performers Festival Ensemble. Metcalfe also enjoys a career as a baroque violinist, playing with Les Délices (dir. Debra Nagy), Montreal Baroque (dir. Eric Milnes), and other ensembles, and has directed the baroque orchestra at Oberlin Conservatory on several occasions. He taught vocal ensemble repertory and performance practice at Boston University from 2006-2015 and has also been a member of the visiting faculty at Harvard University and Boston Conservatory. He is the author of two chapters in a book about music at Peterhouse and the editor of a motet by Francisco de Peñalosa and songs from the Leuven Chansonnier and is at work on a new edition of the songs of Gilles Binchois. He holds degrees from Brown University and Harvard University.

Nick Sandon

Nick Sandon submitted his dissertation on the Peterhouse partbooks in 1983 and has devoted much of his life to them, along with other work in medieval and Renaissance music including an edition of the Use of Salisbury, the paramount liturgy of late medieval England. He is General Editor of the early music publisher Antico Edition. Dr. Sandon was lecturer in music at Exeter University, from 1971 to 1986, professor of music at University College, Cork, 1986 to 1993, and professor of music at Exeter University, 1993 to 2003. He retired in 2003 and with his wife Virginia spent the next thirteen years in France profonde, a tailor-made environment for the study of Tudor church music; they now live in East Devon.

All works edited and completed by Nick Sandon and published by Antico Edition (RCM58, 106, 120, 133, and 138).

Program and Notes


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