Musings from the Artistic Director

Forsaken: Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories

After a wonderful set of February concerts (“Winter Winds” – superbly performed, enthusiastic audience response, pretty good ticket sales [above what be budgeted – yay!], and, if I say so myself, rather intriguingly programmed); and a reprise of last November’s Shakespeare Cameo concerts in Grand County last Friday (in Tabernash, as part of the Grand County Concert Series – snowy evening in the mountains, singers were both intrepid and artistic!); St. Martin’s now turns its sites to the next Cameo concert, “Forsaken: Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories.” This concert is the opposite of the last, at least in terms of mood. The last was playful, full of variety and emotional shifts, and wide-ranging in style and mood. This one is somber – rather unremittingly – and, because it’s all by the same composer, cannot be described as at all varied in style. It’s Renaissance polyphony at its best, but it’s Renaissance polyphony . . . relieved only occasionally by a line of plainchant, or a homophonic section. I am going to creatively make some variety where I can (some sections for one-on-a-part trios and quartets for a change in texture; and about 5 movements are for SSAT – I will transpose a couple of them down to make some ATTB movements, for a change in tessitura/sonority; et. al.). In spite of these efforts, however, the audience will be in a very solemn mood by the end. But SMCC audiences are generally well educated, and know what they’re getting into. And many of them actually like this sort of thing!! (wink, wink).

The Spaniard Tomas Luis de Victoria, after studying in Rome as a young man (presumably with Palestrina), returned to Madrid where he was a tenor in (and I believe leader of) the choir that sang in the dowager Empress of Spain’s private chapel.* I’ll brush up on the history before the concert (where did I put my Groves’ Dictionary?), but these would all have been written for about 8-12 singers, and performed on the last three nights of Holy Week (the “Triduum”) at dark, candlelit evening services. There are 18 of these Responsories (six per night), and I’m dividing the three sets with a couple other works by Victoria, to give the feel of having moved from one night to the next. We’ll try to replicate the dark candlelit atmosphere where we can (not all of our venues are that versatile, or willing to accede to the whims of visiting ensembles!).

Anyway, here are the dates and venues:

Fri. March 31, 7:30pm – Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
Sat. April 1, 7:30pm – St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
Sun. April 2, 3:00pm – St. Paul Community of Faith, Denver

For tickets, follow the links above, visit our concerts page, or call the office at 303-298-1970 for assistance.

*too many prepositions in this sentence. Tried unsuccessfully to rewrite it.