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Blue Heron Presents “Renaissance Portraits”

Musical portraits of personalities portrayed in music from Italian sourcespopes and nobles, friends and spouses, a cocky cook and a self-absorbed lover.

Complemented by an advance “Spotlight Session” deep dive on Renaissance artwork, and a shorter pre-concert talk by Jodi Cranston, Professor of Renaissance Art at Boston University.

Link to High Res Images

(For Immediate Release, Boston—December 12, 2023) Blue Heron, the Gramophone-award winning vocal ensemble, presents “Renaissance Portraits,” musical portraits of personalities portrayed in music from Italian sources by Johannes Ciconia, Guillaume Du Fay, Gilles Binchois, Antoine Busnoys, Heinrich Isaac, and other composers, performed by five singers and three players. The performance takes place on Saturday, January 20 at 3:00 PM at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational.

Popes and nobles, friends and spouses, a cocky cook and a self-absorbed lover, public figures and people otherwise unknown but for a name revealed in an acrostic: just as a painted or sculpted image has the power to convey the spirit of an individual and connect the viewer to its absent subject, a song can evoke in us the emotions felt by musicians and listeners of the past.

The program was originally conceived as a musical complement to the exhibition The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 21, 2011-March 18, 2012). In this reprised and refreshed musical program, Blue Heron offers a unique aural opportunity for listeners to enter the world of 15th-century Italian portraiture. Hear music from when, for the first time, European artists attempted to represent individual human beings in all their idiosyncratic glory, while remaining ever-conscious of the desire to idealize certain aspects of beauty or nobility.

For those wishing to delve deeper into 15th-century portraiture, Blue Heron is delighted to present Boston University Professor Jodi Cranston, a noted scholar of Italian Renaissance art, in a special Spotlight Session, “Renaissance Portraits: paintings, sculpture & medallions” on Wednesday, January 10th, online. Prof. Cranston also will give an illustrated talk prior to the concert on January 20th.

Margot Rood, soprano
Sophie Michaux, mezzo-soprano
Jason McStoots, tenor
Aaron Sheehan, tenor
Sumner Thompson, baritone
Debra Nagy, recorder & douçaine
Kevin Payne, lute
Scott Metcalfe, fiddle & harp, artistic director


Blue Heron: “Renaissance Portraits”
Saturday, January 20, 2024, 3:00 PM
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational (11 Garden Street, Cambridge)
Tickets: $10-$87:

Musical portraits of popes and nobles, lovers and spouses, patrons and friends, a cocky cook, and a desperately self-absorbed lover. Music by Ciconia, Du Fay, Busnoys, Isaac, and others. Free pre-concert talk by Jodi Cranston (Boston University) at 2:15 pm.

Spotlight Session–Jodi Cranston: Renaissance Portraits: Paintings, Sculpture & Medallions
Wednesday, January 10, 2024, 7:00 pm
Online via Zoom
Spotlight Session Tickets $10-$25:

A talk featuring in-depth explorations of topics related to the concert program. Presented live on Zoom; access to a recording of the event will also be available to Spotlight ticket holders for two weeks following the live session.

About Blue Heron

Blue Heron has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for its “expressive intensity.” The ensemble ranges over a wide repertoire from plainchant to new music, with particular specialties in 15th-century Franco-Flemish polyphony and early 16th-century English sacred music, and is committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices. Blue Heron offers a catalog of twelve recordings and is the only group outside of Europe to receive the Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music (2018). Blue Heron’s CD Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume I was named to the first Bestenliste (Quarterly Critics’ Choice) of 2020 by the prestigious Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award). Its multi-season project to perform the complete works of the great 15th-century composer Johannes Ockeghem, Ockeghem@600, wound up in March 2023, making Blue Heron the only ensemble in North America, quite possibly anywhere in the world, to have accomplished this feat.

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Media Contact: Stephanie Janes PR, (617) 419-0445,

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