Sunday, May 8, 2022, 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church
Scott Metcalfe, artistic director, harp and fiddle
Divine Songs: Ockeghem@600
Blue Heron, the esteemed choir from Boston directed by Scott Metcalfe, is midway through its Ockeghem@600 mission to record and perform the composer’s complete works. This program’s lovely Missa sine nomine a5, based on a plainchant melody, has only three movements: Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo. In addition to songs by Ockeghem and his contemporaries, the program also features a six-voice setting of the Salve regina by Obrecht.
“At once cerebral, sensitive, and sensual, the ensemble exhibited perfect blend and balance in various configurations. Perhaps director Metcalfe above all—deserves applause for supreme self-awareness of when to deploy which voices most effectively, how to augment or anchor each other, who ought to step back while another soars.”—Boston Musical Intelligencer
The virtual program becomes available on Sunday, May 15, 4 p.m. ET, followed by a live Q&A, and remains viewable until May 29.
Artist Bios and Program
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.” The ensemble ranges over a wide repertoire from plainchant to new music, with particular specialities in 15th-century Franco-Flemish polyphony and early 16th-century English sacred music. It is committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices.
Founded in 1999, Blue Heron presents a concert series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it has appeared at the Boston Early Music Festival. In New York City, it has performed at Music Before 1800, The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and the 92nd Street Y, and in Washington D.C., at the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and Dumbarton Oaks. It has made many other appearances: at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, at Yale University, and in Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Providence, St. Louis, San Luis Obispo, Seattle, and Vancouver, Canada. In England the choir has sung in Cambridge and London. Upcoming engagements include a visit to the University of California, Davis, and a debut at the Tage alter Musik Regensburg. 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.
Blue Heron’s first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in 2007. Between 2010 and 2017 the ensemble issued a five-CD series of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, including world-premiere recordings of works copied c. 1540 for Canterbury Cathedral and restored by Nick Sandon. The fifth CD was awarded the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music. The five discs are now available as a set entitled The Lost Music of Canterbury. Jessie Ann Owens and Blue Heron won the 2015 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society to support the world premiere recording of Cipriano de Rore’s I madrigali a cinque voci, released in 2019. In 2015 Blue Heron inaugurated Ockeghem@600, a multi-season project to commemorate the circa-600th birthday of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497) by performing his complete works. A parallel project to record all of Ockeghem’s songs and motets bore its first fruits in 2019 with the release of Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume I, which was named to the Bestenliste of the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. 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, the live recording Christmas in Medieval England, a compilation of medieval songs entitled A 14th-Century Salmagundi, and a live recording of a production of Guillaume de Machaut’s Remède de Fortune.
Scott Metcalfe is widely recognized as one of North America’s leading specialists in music from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries and beyond. Musical and artistic director of Blue Heron since its founding in 1999, he was music director of New York City’s Green Mountain Project from 2010-19. He has been guest director of TENET (New York), the Handel + Haydn Society and Emmanuel Music (Boston), the Toronto Consort, The Tudor Choir, Seattle Baroque, Pacific Baroque Orchestra (Vancouver, BC), Quire Cleveland, and the Dryden Ensemble (Princeton, NJ) in music ranging from Machaut to Bach and Handel. Metcalfe also enjoys a career as a baroque violinist, playing with Les Délices (dir. Debra Nagy), L’Harmonie des Saisons (dir. Eric Milnes), and other ensembles. His scholarly activities include research on the performance practice of vocal music from the 14th through 17th centuries. An article on clefs, transposition, and pitch in music before 1600 has recently been published in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation. Two essays on music at Peterhouse (Cambridge) will finally see the light this year in a long-forthcoming book. He has edited a motet by Francisco de Peñalosa for Antico Edition (UK) and songs from the recently rediscovered Leuven Chansonnier for the Alamire Foundation (Belgium). A longterm project is a new edition of the songs of Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460). Metcalfe has taught at Boston University, Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, and Oberlin Conservatory. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University (1985) where he majored in biology, and a master’s degree in historical performance practice from Harvard (2005).