2016-2017 Concert Season
Please join the Medieval Women’s Choir for another spectacular season of medieval music – and new works – from around the world.
Dec. 3, 2016 at St. James Cathedral
The Europe of ages past was awash in winter holidays that served to drive away the winter gloom and give people plenty of reason to celebrate. At a time when the separation of church and state was unthinkable, most holidays were religious, but they were celebrated at court and in the street as well as in the church. Besides the Nativity, there were the feasts of St. Nicholas, St. Thomas Becket, The Immaculate Conception, and the Feast of the Three Kings, which marked the 12th day of Christmas. The Feast of the Circumcision, which fell on New Year’s Day, was celebrated with particular license as The Feast of Fools.
Join the Medieval Women’s Choir as we celebrate the Winter Feasts!
March 12, 2017 at University Temple
Although most people in the Middle Ages rarely traveled far from their place of birth, there was one thing that inspired and mobilized legions of believers, both high- and low-born, to undertake long, sometimes harrowing journeys: Pilgrimage. Well-established pilgrimage routes stretched all the way from Scandanavia, Britain and Eastern Europe to holy shrines in Compostela, Rome, and the Holy Land. Pilgrims were driven by both religious fervor and by the opportunity to see the world. For many, it was the only journey they would ever undertake.
At the inns, hostels, and cloisters where they found refuge, and in the squares of towns along the routes, pilgrims would have encountered a wide range of music, both familiar and exotic, courtly and coarse; music for dancing and for feasting; music of the church, and music celebrating love. Follow the progress of the Medieval Women’s Choir as we discover the music of pilgrimage.
The White Lily
June 3, 2017 at Trinity Parish
Candens lillium, stella radiosa, mater gloriosa–A perusal of medieval Marian texts yields a long list of honorific names for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is the white lily, the shining star, the glorious mother of all, the new Eve, and the direct line to Christ. She is at once a servant and the queen of heaven, in stature second only to God.
The medieval church designated Mary as the mediatrix, a figure with special powers to intercede with her son on behalf of humankind. The cult of the virgin led to a staggering outpouring of song as believers, feeling far removed from a distant God and unworthy to address him directly, turned to their Blessed Mother to arrange forgiveness and an eternity in heaven.
Songs and poems for Mary became so basic to medieval culture that they popped up everywhere: adopting the melodies of popular troubadour songs, inserted into preexisting liturgical music, and forming the basis of decidedly non-sacred love songs. In medieval Paris, clever young poet/composers even wrote bi-textual motets that praise Mary in one voice and recount a bawdy encounter with “Marion” in the other. A program of Marian music is a true cross-section of medieval music and a window into the medieval heart.