Voxfire’s concert surrounding Advent and Christmas themes is a celebration of some of the most beautiful music to come from Europe in the Middle Ages. From England to the Continent, from the 12th through the 15th centuries, the glory of the season resonates through the voices of Voxfire, intertwining at times with the soothing droning of organ pipes. Rapturous chants of Hildegard von Bingen; ethereal antiphons and conductus; and joyous carols comprise the main part of the program. The grand finale is the fully costumed chant drama The Play of the Annunciation, adapted for three solo voices by Voxfire, ending with a beautiful late medieval Magnificat.
An Homage to the Virgin
"An Homage to the Virgin," created for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, was designed to complement the museum's exhibit of illuminated manuscripts entitled "The Queen of the Angels" and structured around the four-fold theme: Marian Devotion, and Mary as Virgin Mother, Queen of Heaven, and Intercessor. The program includes vocal and instrumental music from twelfth through fifteenth century Europe, which was written in honor of the Virgin Mary, the most intensely adored sacred figure of the medieval era. These works include soaring chants of Hildegard of Bingen, haunting three-part acapella pieces of thirteenth century Spain, England and France, and spirited pilgrimage songs from the fourteenth century Spanish manuscript Llibre Vermell (“Red Book”). Medieval instrumental specialists add to the celebration with dances and improvisational accompaniments.
Machaut and Beyond:
Echoes from 14th Century France
This program captures the essence of the 14th Century -- the age of chivalry, the Black Plague and Hundred Years’ War – with the haunting beauty of the music of medieval France. Centering around the most famous French composer of the Middle Ages, Guillaume Machaut, the first half begins with an anonymous, sweet setting of the Mass and an energetic motet by Philippe de Vitry, then finishes with one of Machaut’s most glorious works: Le lai de le fonteinne (The Song of the Fountain), a philosophical rumination on the significance of the doctrine of the Trinity perfectly reflected in flowing three-part vocal canons. The second half focuses on songs of love, longing and despair, favorite themes of the era, ending with rousing rounds of festivity and companionship. Medieval instruments add their own strains as well as accompaniments to the voices.
AMORE! is in the air when Voxfire presents this concert, exploring the subtle (and not so subtle!) expressions of love through song from the distant shores of Italy and England in the late Middle Ages and early Baroque, with the sensual accompaniment of theorbo, lute and baroque guitar. The first half of the program juxtaposes the haunting, harmonic sparseness of Italian 14th century compositions, by masters such as Francesco Landini, with the harmonically opulent music of the early Italian Baroque, including virtuosic gems written for the famous “Ladies” at the court of Ferrara. The second half translates AMORE! to England, contrasting the simple, charming melodies of the early Renaissance with the more complicated strains of the Baroque. A lively adaptation of the Venus-Cupid dialogues in John Blow’s courtly masque, Venus and Adonis, rounds out the program, a hearty celebration of the solo lute song and -- of course – love.