Thursday, October 31, 2019, 12.30 p.m.
Marsh Chapel Boston University
Cappella Pratensis, eight-voice men’s choir from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Stratton Bull, director
A Renaissance Masterpiece: Jacob Obrecht’s “Missa Maria zart”
On his way to Ferrara to begin work at the Este chapel, Obrecht stopped at Innsbruck. There he heard a song to the Virgin Mary that would inspire his brilliant Missa Maria zart. He died the following year, leaving this late and radiant creation in the Flamboyant Gothic style. Singing from mensural notation scored in a large choirbook, the internationally acclaimed Cappella Pratensis soars, ever vibrant in its authenticity.
Post-concert Q and A
“Their singing was impeccably clean, in timbre and balance alike. But their emphasis was on the shape and flow of lines, more than on how the lines were put together. 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 Dutch based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, literally “Cappella des prés,” champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries while also venturing into new music inspired by the polyphonic tradition. Founded in 1987, the group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programs and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight. As in Josquin’s time, Cappella Pratensis performs from mensural notation presented in a partbook or choirbook, the latter placed on a large central music stand. This approach, together with attention to the chant origins of the polyphonic repertory, the modal system, the influence of solmization, and the linguistic basis, creates an intense engagement with the music.
Besides regular appearances at concert venues in the Netherlands and Belgium, Cappella Pratensis has performed at leading international festivals and concert series throughout Europe, North America and Japan. The group has been ensemble-in-residence at Harvard University, the Fondation Royaumont (France), and Boston University, giving courses, presenting concerts, and working with distinguished musicians. Most recently the ensemble has performed in prestigious series offered by Columbia University in New York and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Its CDs have met with critical acclaim and distinctions from the press (including the Diapason d’Or and the Prix Choc). Most recently Gramophone magazine recognized the ensemble’s recording of the Ockeghem Requiem as the best out of more than twenty recordings made over the last forty years.
Cappella Pratensis also passes on insights into vocal polyphony and performance from original notation—both among professionals and amateurs—through masterclasses, multi-media presentations, collaboration with institutions, an annual summer course as part of the Laus Polyphoniae festival in Antwerp, and training young singers within the group itself. Cappella Pratensis is ensemble-in-residence at the Alamire Foundation (University of Leuven) in connection with the digitization and valorization of the brilliant musical sources made in the workshops of the early 16th-century music scribe Petrus Alamire.
Cappella Pratensis is represented by David Middleton of middletonartsmanagement.com