May 30, 2013

Recorder consort pairs with chamber choir

Recorder consort pairs with chamber choir

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble pairs with the Four Winds recorder consort to present “Madrigals, Motets and Merriment.”

The first performance is Saturday at St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh, with a second performance Sunday at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake.

The Four Winds features Christopher Barry, Anne Paulson, Veronique Tetrault and Lynn Waickman.

“Two are from Quebec and two from New York” said Andrew “Drew” Benware, ensemble conductor. “It’s an international flair we are lending to this concert.”

The first half of the program is music from the English Renaissance and includes “Now is the Month of Maying” and “April Is In My Mistress’ Face.”


Madrigals are secular vocal works. Motets are sacred vocal works.

“We will do a variety of languages,” Benware said. “Many are in English and come from the English Renaissance tradition. Two or three are Italian, so they can hear the difference in English madrigal style and the Italian madrigal style. The motets are in Latin.”

The biggest challenge facing the chamber choir is vocal style.

“We’re trying to be historically true with our singing. Madrigal singing demands certain flexibility to the voice, a certain lightness. The release of cadences is more relaxed. There is a buoyancy to it.

“There’s also a dance-like quality to many of them because they would have been interchangeable with instruments. It’s interesting that we’re pairing with a recorder consort.”


Renaissance instrumentation was less strict, Benware said.

 “A five-voice madrigal, we have three singers and fill it out with two instruments. There was a certain feeling at times; the recorders will be dueling with the vocal lines sometimes in our octave or register.

“The recorders have dubbed it musical fairy dust because they will be hovering an octave above us. It’s a neat texture we are creating. Certainly with the motets, we’re ending with those, and they will be sung entirely a capella, the way they would have been done as part of a church service.”


The consort’s works include “Pietragrua Canzona,” “Praetorious Dance Set and “Susata Dance Set.”

“The program won’t be a set of vocal works. It will be a lot of back and forth. They will be playing a lot of Renaissance dance music on their recorders, and there is some percussion involved as well.

“The very first and last numbers are pieces we combine on in a unique way. The sopranino will accompany us on the first number.

“The last one (Jacob Handl’s ‘Alleluia’) is a double-choir piece. It was originally written for two choirs of voices that would have been on opposite sides of the church singing to each other.

What we have done is make the choir one, voices; and choir two, the recorders. That will be a very interesting effect.”

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WHAT: "Madrigals, Motets and Merriment," a program of renaissance music by the Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble and The Four Winds Recorder Consort. WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter's Church in Plattsburgh; 7:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Bernard's Church in Saranac Lake. ADMISSION: $10 suggested donation at the door. PHONE: 293-7613.