“Calmly yet sensuously performed, at once flexibly and transparently shaped, these neglected chansons take on a hitherto unsuspected radiance that touches heart and mind alike.” Bestenliste, Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (January 2020)
Weather-Related Cancellations: Concerts presented by Blue Heron will go on regardless of weather, unless the governor declares a State of Emergency. In the event of cancellation, every attempt will be made to update this space, our Facebook page, and phone voicemail (which is (617) 960-7956). If time, technology, and electricity permit, an email to ticket holders (through Vendini) and to our full email list will also be sent.
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Dear friends of Blue Heron:
It is with deep regret that we must cancel the remainder of our season in order to ensure public safety and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have already purchased tickets for the May 15 concert, we ask that you please consider donating back the value of the ticket to Blue Heron and receive an acknowledgment for your tax deductible donation.
Although we are unable to share a live concert experience with you at present, we do hope you continue to enjoy our regular posts of past Blue Heron performances.
We are deeply grateful to all members of the Blue Heron community who support our mission in so many meaningful ways. We wish you all good health during this global crisis and look forward to sharing news about the 2020-2021 season in the weeks ahead.
Kathleen C. Brittan
Many Voices: Obrecht, Aleotti, Daniel-Lesur, Sanlıkol CANCELED March 26 Boston College
POSTPONED March 28 Cambridge
Ockeghem@600, Concert 10: Missa Quinti toni CANCELED May 2 Milwaukee
CANCELED May 3 Grand Rapids
CANCELED May 15 Cambridge
Songs of Love & Death: Selections from I madrigali a cinque voci by Cipriano de Rore * Debut performances in Continental Europe * CANCELED May 30 Tage Alter Musik, Regensburg, Germany
CANCELED June 1 Ronse, Belgium
Music from Blue Heron
As we ride out the coronavirus pandemic together, we invite you to continue to enjoy video links to past Blue Heron performances.
Credo Fors seullement Johannes Okeghem (c.1420-1497)
Megan Chartrand, Owen McIntosh, Jason McStoots, Sumner Thompson, David McFerrin
Ockeghem@600, Concert 7
Recorded live in concert March 3, 2018
Today’s musical selection is Johannes Okeghem’s Credo Fors seullement, recorded in a concert at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, on March 3, 2018, as part of our concert presentation of the complete works of Okeghem, Ockeghem@600. (Okeghem or Ockeghem? The accepted modern spelling of his name is Ockeghem, one of many versions found in 15th-century sources; in recently rediscovered documents he signed his name J. de Okeghem. Read more here.)
The Credo takes Okeghem’s own song Fors seullement l’actente que je meure as its point of departure. The song was one of his most successful, measured by the number of compositions it inspired: about three dozen subsequent pieces rework its material. Okeghem himself took the top part of the song, transposed it down a twelfth, and used it as the lowest part of a new song with a rather inscrutable political text, Fors seullement contre ce qu’ay promis. He also composed polyphonic settings of three movements from the Ordinary of the Mass—the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo—based on the melodies of Fors seullement l’actente.
Although copied in sequence in their unique manuscript source, the Chigi Codex, the three movements do not appear to belong to be part of the same cycle. The Kyrie and Gloria are extraordinarily complex pieces of music, in which the dense five-voice texture is relieved only occasionally by a passage for three or four voices. Material derived from the song’s two higher voices is distributed among all five voices of the Kyrie and Gloria; the song’s lowest voice is also quoted in the Kyrie. In contrast, in the Credo the tenor sings the entire melody of the song’s upper voice, plus some of the second voice’s melody, all virtually unaltered, in a traditional and (for Okeghem) straightforward cantus firmus setting featuring numerous duos and trios. The difference in compositional structure extends to the scoring: although all three movements are for five voices, in the Kyrie and Gloria the second and third voices from the top share their clef and range, while in the Credo it is the third and fourth voices that are paired. It seems likely that what we have here are a Kyrie-Gloria pair and an independent Credo; their association in the Chigi Codex, as if they were the first three movements of a complete Mass cycle on Fors seullement, may have been the initiative of the scribe.
This highly important [Peterhouse recording] project, one of the most important early choral projects of our time, has unearthed a series of masterly composers hitherto virtually unknown...Such is the authority of Scott Metcalfe and his singers with this repertoire that they negotiate even the most daringly challenging and unexpected passages with utter confidence, and, as previously, with a delicious blend of expressiveness and seemingly inexorable forward momentum.
D. James Ross, Early Music Review (UK)
a revelation - fresh, dynamic and vibrant...urgent and wondrous music-making of the highest order
Damian Fowler, Gramophone (UK)
fine gradations of dynamics; pungent diction; telling contrasts of ethereal and earthly timbres; tempos that are more lusty than languid; a way of propelling a phrase toward a goal. ... The singing is both precise and fluid, immaculate and alive...
Alex Ross, The New Yorker
A listener then would have been lucky to hear these works brought off with such panache. The program is by turns pensive and lively, and the scholarship required to evoke stylistic accuracy is put totally at the service of performance.
David Allen, The New York Times
I feel privileged to be able to revel in such a subtle shaped set of performances... This is the kind of recording that makes you sit up and pay attention.. There is plenty that is memorable here, and always the anticipation of something juicy to relish just around the corner. You can't ask much more than that from a CD.
Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
The earthy sensuousness of Blue Heron's singing coupled with the curatorial care behind its programming have clearly earned the trust of audiences
Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe
But Blue Heron’s devotion to this repertory — the ensemble has recorded five albums of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks — is not justified only by its rarity. This is vivid and radiant music. ...
... With two or three singers to a part and women stepping into the shoes of boy choristers, Blue Heron brings a zesty and sensual sound to these works of devotional music.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
Blue Heron is engaged in the exploration of Renaissance and medieval vocal music. Putting the study of original sources in the service of persuasive, vivid and exciting concert presentations, the ensemble is now established as the finest of its type in North America. Led by Scott Metcalfe, Blue Heron offers a home subscription series in Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a catalog of eight exceptional recordings is available on the Blue Heron label, one of which garnered the group the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music, thereby making Blue Heron the first group from outside Europe to receive the award. Touring engagements have taken the group across the United States as well as to Canada and England. Blue Heron is Renaissance vocal music for the 21st century.