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Renaissance Symbolism: Music and Astronomy

Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)

Programme created and first performed at the Kings Lynn Festival 2019 for the festival theme of ‘Music and Astronomy’.

This programme explores the uses of astronomical symbolism in the Christian faith, and the ways in which imagery of the stars and the heavens inspired composers of, principally, the 16th and 17th centuries.

The focus is on two texts in particular, which frame the programme: ‘Ave maris stella’ and ‘Viri Galilaei’. The former, a Vespers plainsong hymn of unknown origin, is a devotional text to the Virgin Mary, representing Mary as the ‘star of the sea’, and has been one of the most popular Marian texts among composers throughout the last 500 years. The latter, from the book of Acts, depicts the disciples staring up into the heavens after Jesus has departed from them at the Ascension. The words spoken to the disciples here are indicative both of their lack of understanding and also of their curiosity and inquisitiveness towards the heavens. These aspects of the disciples’ faith can be united here with the practice of Astronomy via a shared quest for greater understanding of what lies above and beyond our earthly experience.

Anon. – Ave maris stella (plainchant)
Tomás Luis de Victoria – Ave maris stella
Orlande de Lassus – Prophetiae Sibyllarum (selection)
Reading or instrumental item
Orlande de Lassus – Exsultet caelum mare
Orlande de Lassus – Aurora lucis rutilat
Johann Sebastian Bach – Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh’ darein (chorale)
James MacMillan – Ave maris stella
Reading or instrumental item
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina – Viri Galilaei
William Byrd – Viri Galilaei
Anon. – Viri Galilaei (plainchant)
Further proposals
A feast of Bach!
Rachel Podger (violin) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)
Music from the Bach family
Rachel Podger (violin) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)
"Eastern Pictures"
Corvus Consort, Louise Thomson (harp), Louise Thomson (harp) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)
Programmes for Lent: Reproaches, Lamentation and Penitence
Corvus Consort
An improvisatory exploration of Renaissance soundworlds
Corvus Consort, Corvus Consort and Music on the Edge
Revoiced: Baroque music for choir and saxophones
Corvus Consort, Corvus Consort and Ferio Saxophone Quartet, Ferio Saxophone Quartet
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