Summer Festival of Sacred Music Continues with Missa Tournai

Summer Festival of Sacred Music Continues with Missa Tournai

The 23rd annual Summer Festival of Sacred Music at St. Bartholomew's Church continues on Sunday, August 20, at 11 am with Missa Tournai from the Ars Nova period as well as music by Leonel Power from 15th-century England.

The Ars Nova refers to a musical style which flourished in France and the Low Burgundian countries in the fourteenth century through the death of Guillaume Machaut (1377), its greatest proponent. Stylistically, the Ars Nova is distinguished from the previous "Ars Antiqua" period, by a greater flexibility of rhythm brought about by advances in musical notation. Rhythm was no longer bound to the limited rhythmic modes of the previous age. Other rhythmic developments occurred including isorhythm, in which the tenor (cantus firmus), composed in repeated cell-like rhythmic patterns, serves as the basis for rhythmically varied counterpoint composed above and below it. These innovations led to a style of music with greater expressivity than was possible in earlier periods.

Missa Tournai, an anonymous 14th-century mass from France, is the first known mass to have been written in a manuscript as a single unified setting of the Ordinary as opposed to each of its movements being grouped together with other settings. It is preserved in a manuscript from the library of Tournai Cathedral.

St. Bartholomew's Choir, conducted by Jason Roberts, will sing Missa Tournai as well as Leonel Power's Beata progenies.

The Summer Festival of Sacred Music takes place each Sunday morning at 11 am at St. Bartholomew's Church during the summer months. At a time when most churches reduce their musical offerings, St. Bartholomew's Church provides outstanding sacred music sung by St. Bartholomew's Choir and Boy and Girl Choristers, two of New York City's most renowned choirs. Works include an array of mass settings from the 15th century to the present embracing a diversity of cultures from around the world. The music is sung as part of the Eucharist or Mass, the liturgical context for which it was composed. All Summer Festival events are free and open to the public.

St. Bartholomew's Church is located at the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street. Subway: 6 to 51st Street. For more information, call (212) 378-0222 or visit for the complete Summer Festival schedule.

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