L. A. Music Preview: RENAISSANCE: REAWAKENED (Los Angeles Master Chorale)

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by Tony Frankel on November 13, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


Music was an essential part of civic, religious, and courtly life in the Renaissance. The rich interchange of ideas in Europe, as well as political, economic, and religious events in the period 1400–1600 led to major changes in styles of composing, methods of disseminating music, new musical genres, and the development of musical instruments. The most important music of the early Renaissance was composed for use by the church—polyphonic (made up of several simultaneous melodies) masses and motets in Latin for important churches and court chapels. By the end of the sixteenth century, however, patronage was split among many areas: the Catholic Church, Protestant churches and courts, wealthy amateurs, and music printing—all were sources of income for composers.


Los Angeles Master Chorale has assembled 36 of its finest singers for a concert which will showcase why the Renaissance forever changed the course of music history. The members of this ensemble have established themselves particularly proficient at performing in this musical style with a crisp, clear intonation. With Grant Gershon leading Renaissance: Reawakened, nine influential composers will reverberate throughout Disney Hall on Sunday, November 16 at 7:00.

Josquin des PrezThe stage was set for Renaissance composers in the early fifteenth century when Guillaume Du Fay (1397–1474) created works that displayed a sweet melodic lyricism unknown until his era. By about 1500, European art music was dominated by Franco-Flemish composers, the most prominent of whom was Josquin des Prez (ca. 1450–1521), who will be represented with “Tu solus qui facis mirabilia.”

Like many leading composers of his era, Josquin traveled widely throughout Europe, working for patrons in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Milan, Rome, Ferrara, and Condé-sur-L’Escaut. The exchange of musical ideas among the Low Countries, France, and Italy led to what could be considered an international European style. On the one hand, polyphony or multi-voiced music with its horizontal contrapuntal style continued to develop in complexity. At the same time, harmony based on a vertical arrangement of intervals, including thirds and sixths, was explored for its full textures and suitability for accompanying a vocal line. There was also a cross-pollination between the sacred and secular.

The music on LAMC’s program epitomizes these trends, wherein Northern-style intricate polyphony used canons, preexisting melodies, and other compositional structures which  smoothly amalgamated with the Italian bent for artfully setting words with melodies that highlight the poetry rather than masking it with complexity.

Los Angeles Master Chorale LOGOThomas Tallis | “If Ye Love Me”
John Taverner | Western Wind Mass
Josquin des Prez | “Tu solus qui facis mirabilia”
Tomás Luis de Victoria | “Gaudent in coelis”
William Byrd | “Sing Joyfully”
Orlando di Lasso | “O Crux Splendidior”
Josquin des Prez | “Ave nobilissima creatura”
Tomás Luis de Victoria | “Vere Languores”
William Byrd | “Laudibus in sanctis”

You can learn more at the 6:00 ListenUp! preconcert talk with Music Director Grant Gershon and KUSC Host Alan Chapman.

Renaissance: Reawakened
Los Angeles Master Chorale
Grant Gershon, conductor
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave
Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 7 pm
for tickets, call 213-972-7282 or visit www.lamc.org

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