Blue Heron at Lambeth Palace Library
Come hear the renowned American vocal ensemble Blue Heron (Scott Metcalfe, dir.), make its London debut, as it offers a performance in the historic Great Hall at Lambeth Palace, at the invitation of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library. Many of the oldest volumes in the Library's collection are held in the Great Hall, which was completed in 1664 as the banqueting hall.
Entrance will be through Morton's Tower (built c.1490), the red brick Tudor gatehouse that faces Lambeth Bridge (shown in the image).
Blue Heron's program will include works of Hugh Aston, and other nearly-forgotten but brilliant composers of the early 16th century. Preceding the performance will be a talk by Nick Sandon, the world's leading expert on the partbooks. On display in the Great Hall will be early books and manuscripts relevant to the music and the tumultuous period in which the partbooks came into being.
The music comes entirely from a set of partbooks copied for Canterbury Cathedral circa 1540 and now housed at Peterhouse Cambridge. This set of partbooks is the largest extant source of pre-Reformation polyphony in England, containing about 50 works not found in any other source. The tragic loss of one of the partbooks (the Tenor) several centuries ago caused the music in this source to be badly neglected. But, musicologist and composer Nick Sandon has made it his life's work to reconstruct the missing parts for every work, and he has done so brilliantly; his work has in turn allowed Blue Heron to record and release a 5-CD set of world premiere recordings, a set recently called "one of the most important early choral projects of our time" (D. James Ross, Early Music Review). Fabrice Fitch calls the fifth volume (released in March) "one of the discoveries of the year" in November's Gramophone magazine, where the CD is also an Editor's Choice.
Prof. Sandon will give a short talk about the significance of the partbooks beginning at 3 PM, which will be followed by Blue Heron's performance. The presentation will last about one hour, with no intermission.
Blue Heron (Scott Metcalfe, dir.)
Margot Rood, Shari Wilson, Teresa Wakim, Jennifer Ashe, Pamela Dellal, Martin Near, Owen McIntosh, Jason McStoots, Michael Barrett, Mark Sprinkle, Paul Guttry, Steven Hrycelak, David McFerrin, voices
About Blue Heron
The vocal ensemble 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 the "expressive intensity" of its interpretations. Combining a commitment to vivid live performance with the study of original source materials and historical performance practices, Blue Heron ranges over a wide repertoire, including 15th-century English and Franco-Flemish polyphony, Spanish music between 1500 and 1600, and neglected early 16th-century English music, especially the unique repertory of the Peterhouse partbooks, copied c. 1540 for Canterbury Cathedral. The ensemble also regularly performs earlier music, and recently collaborated with A Far Cry in concerts featuring Gabriel Fauré's Requiem and Le Cantiques des Cantiques for twelve voices by Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur, composed in 1952.
Blue Heron presents a subscription series in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The ensemble 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 and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.; in California at Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, and at the Berkeley Early Music Festival; in Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia; and for a visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Blue Heron has been ensemble in residence at the Center for Early Music Studies at Boston University and at Boston College. In 2015 the ensemble embarked on a long-term project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497); entitled Ockeghem@600, it will wind up in the 2020-21 season, just in time to commemorate the composer's circa-600th birthday.
Blue Heron is a highly flexible performing organization which draws from a roster of musicians in order to constitute the ensemble best suited to the repertoire at hand; thus the ensemble may range in size from three singers (for a fifteenth-century song) to around a dozen (for a large-scale early sixteenth-century English mass) and adds instruments (slide trumpet, trombone, fiddle, harp, dulcian) when appropriate.
About Scott Metcalfe
Scott Metcalfe has gained wide recognition 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 is also music director of New York City's Green Mountain Project (Jolle Greenleaf, artistic director), whose performances of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 and other Vespers programs devised by Metcalfe have been hailed by The New York Times as "quite simply terrific" and by The Boston Globe as "stupendous." He is a frequent guest director of TENET (New York) in repertoire ranging from Machaut and Du Fay through Charpentier, Purcell, and Bach, and he has been guest conductor of the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Emmanuel Music (Boston), The Tudor Choir and Seattle Baroque, Pacific Baroque Orchestra (Vancouver, BC), Quire Cleveland, and the Dryden Ensemble (Princeton, NJ). He also conducted Early Music America's Young Performers Festival Ensemble in its inaugural performance at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival.
Metcalfe also enjoys a career as a baroque violinist and currently plays with Les Délices (dir. Debra Nagy), LHarmonie des Saisons (dir. Eric Milnes), and other ensembles. He taught vocal ensemble repertoire and performance practice at Boston University from 2006-2015 and in 2016-17 is serving as director of the baroque orchestra at Oberlin Conservatory.
Metcalfe received 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). Some of his research on the performance practice of English vocal music in the 16th and 17th centuries will be published as two chapters in "Music, politics, and religion in early seventeenth-century Cambridge: the Peterhouse partbooks in context" (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, forthcoming) and he is presently at work on a new edition of the songs of Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460). His edition of Francisco de Peñalosa's "Precor te, domine Jesu Christe" was published by Antico Edition in 2017. Perhaps uniquely in the early music world, he is lead author of an article published in the Annals of Botany.
About Nick Sandon
Nick Sandon submitted his dissertation on the Peterhouse partbooks in 1983 and has devoted much of his career to them, along with other work in medieval and Renaissance music. He was lecturer in music at Exeter University, 1971-86, professor of music at University College, Cork, 1986-93, and professor of music at Exeter University, 1993-2003, and since his retirement in 2003 has been doing more useful things.
About Lambeth Palace Library
Lambeth Palace Library is the historic library and record office of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the principal repository of the documentary history of the Church of England. Its collections have been freely available for research since 1610.
Its collections contain over 4,600 manuscripts and immense quantities of archives, dating from the 9th Century to the present -among which are some 600 medieval manuscripts.
The library has almost 200,000 printed books, including some 30,000 items printed before 1700. Many are unique, or are distinguished by their provenance or by special bindings.
James I described the Library as "a monument of fame" in his kingdom. Peter the Great, who visited in 1698, is recorded as saying that nothing in England astonished him as much as Lambeth Palace Library; he had never thought there were so many books in all the world.
About the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library (registered charity no. 313023)
The Friends of Lambeth Palace Library was founded in 1964 as a focus of support for the Library, and to help in adding to its collections for the benefit of present and future generations. The Friends bring together like-minded people with an interest in the Library's history and collections, and the organization provides invaluable assistance in the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts and in conservation.
Please join the Friends so that, with your help, the Library may continue to develop and flourish: www.lambethpalacelibrary.org/content/friends.
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Lambeth Palace Library (View)
Lambeth Palace Road
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