Sunday, April 16, 2023, 4 p.m. Corpus Christi Church
Sunday, April 23, 2023, 4 p.m. Online
Stratton Bull, director
Canons of Beauty: Josquin and Mouton
Under the direction of Stratton Bull, the eight men of Cappella Pratensis from the Netherlands commemorate the 500th anniversaries of two extraordinary composers’ deaths—Josquin Desprez’s death in 1521, and Jean Mouton’s a year later. The breathtakingly beautiful mass movements, motets, and chansons conceal their intricate complexities to sound seemingly effortless and ethereal. The pieces’ canonic sections often provide a puzzle to be solved when one or more voices are implied but not written out.
“Their singing was impeccably clean, in timbre and balance alike. In repertoire so often thought to be all about the intellectual beauty of counterpoint, they drew out the more vital beauty of melody.” —Chicago Classical Review
The virtual program becomes available on Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m. ET and remains viewable until May 7.
Artist Bios and Program
Cappella Pratensis specializes in the music of Josquin Desprez (i.e., Josquinus Pratensis) and other polyphonic composers of the 15th and 16th centuries. The ensemble performs its own programs and original interpretations, which are based on academic research. As was customary in the Renaissance, the singers of Cappella Pratensis usually stand around a central music stand, singing from facsimiles of original choirbooks. This creates a unique perspective on the repertoire. The ensemble, founded in 1987, is now under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull.
In addition to regular concerts in the Netherlands and Belgium, Cappella Pratensis performs in leading international festivals and venues in France, Portugal, Germany, and the United States. The ensemble has also released several CDs which have been greeted with rave press reviews and awards, including the Diapason d’Or and the Prix Choc. From 2005 to 2007, Cappella Pratensis was ensemble-in-residence at the Fondation Royaumont (France), where it gave courses and concerts, and worked with several prominent musicians. In 2009, it released a DVD/CD production of the Missa de Sancto Donatiano by Jacob Obrecht. It contained a reconstruction of the first performance of this mass, supplemented with extensive documentation, and filmed on location in Bruges. This production was awarded a Diapason découverte and the highest rating in the professional magazine, Classica.
The CD Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope (2010), directed by guest conductor Joshua Rifkin, was awarded a Diapason d’Or. A successful series of concerts of the Requiem of Pierre de la Rue was led by guest conductor Bo Holten. A DVD of one of these concerts, performed as part of the event Jheronimus Bosch 500, was released in 2010 under the title Bosch Requiem.
In January 2012 Cappella Pratensis released a new CD that contains the earliest surviving polyphonic requiem masses in music history—those by Johannes Ockeghem and Pierre de la Rue. They released a CD in February 2014 with music written for the Feast of the Assumption and transmitted in choirbooks from the Vatican, including Josquin Desprez’s masterpiece, Missa Ave maris stella. In late 2015, the ensemble recorded the Missa Cum Jocunditate by Pierre de la Rue.
In 2016, Cappella Pratensis and the Nederlands Kamerkoor performed eight concerts of the world premiere of the Missa Unitatis, composed in 2008 by Anthony Pitts (b. 1969) in a unique partnership with choirs in Antwerp, Breda,
’s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Tilburg and Helmond. It has also performed during the Early Music Festival in Utrecht, and presented five performances of the program, “Christmas with Josquin in the Season of Early Music.”
Cappella Pratensis shares its vision and approach to vocal polyphony with professionals and amateurs in masterclasses using multimedia presentations, and also in a week-long summer school that takes place annually during the festival Laus Polyphoniae in Antwerp. In a structural collaboration with the universities of Leuven and Oxford, the musical manuscripts of the workshop of Petrus Alamire are explored by musicologists and adapted for use by other musicians.
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Blocked View: $10/$5
Virtual Concert: $15
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Virtual Subscription: $80
We offer $5 student tickets to all in-person and virtual concerts.