Magnificat Performs in Palo Alto, Berkeley and San Francisco This Weekend

Magnificat Performs in Palo Alto, Berkeley and San Francisco This Weekend

The San Francisco Early Music Society will present MAGNIFICAT together with early wind ensemble THE WHOLE NOYSE in a program of music featuring the brilliant polychoral music of Giovanni Gabrieli juxtaposed with the concertato music of Claudio Monteverdi. A Venetian Christmas Mass presents the works in liturgical sequence for the third mass on Christmas Day interspersed with Gregorian chant appropriate for the feast day.

Magnificat, founded and directed by Warren Stewart, was the first ensemble in the U.S. to dedicate itself to 17th-century music from all parts of Europe -- from early Italian opera to Charpentier's late Mass at the end of the century -- and over the course of 20 years the group has remained a leader among its peers.

The Whole Noyse, renowned for its mastery of 16th- and 17th-century historical brass, together with singers Clara Rottsolk, Jennifer Paulino, Andrew Rader, Clifton Massey, Dan Hutchings, Christopher LeCluyse, Hugh Davies, and Peter Becker, join Magnificat under Stewart's direction.

"Organist at the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice for three decades, Gabrieli formed a link from Lassus and the High Renaissance to the music of the early Baroque," says Warren. "A year after his death in 1612, Monteverdi arrived to assume the role of maestro di cappella at St. Mark's and the music he would write in Venice had a profound impact on musical style that still resonates today."

"While Gabrieli's music is firmly grounded in the polychoral tradition of his uncle Andrea and the contrapuntal style of the High Renaissance, his later works reflect many of the new devices emerging from experiments with opera and virtuosic solo writing, notably in his Christmas concerto Quem vidistis pastores. Similarly, though Monteverdi is most closely associated with the music of the 'secunda prattica', throughout his life he also wrote in the older style, notably in his Missa in illo tempore, published along with his famous vespers music in 1610 and in the stile antico Mass from his collection Selva morale e spirituale."

This fluidity of compositional style is reflected in Magnificat's program, which features Gabrieli's Kyrie and Sanctus published posthumously in 1615 together with Monteverdi's concertato Gloria and Credo from 1640 and his Agnus Dei from 1610. The program also includes concerti and canzoni by Gabrieli and Monteverdi's soprano motet O bone Iesu.

NEXT CONCERT February 1 - 3, 2014 | Galax Quartet with contralto Karen Clark Avant-garde from the 16th century and early music from today. Sinuous motets and madrigals by Lassus and Gesualdo pair with music written for Galax by Joseph Schwantner and Roy Whelden.

ABOUT MAGNIFICAT For twenty years Magnificat has explored the emotionally charged music of the 17th century, each season bringing together an assembly of internationally recognized musicians to present unique and innovative programs that engage the senses and inspire the imagination. Under the artistic direction of Warren Stewart, Magnificat has offered Bay Area audiences the chance to hear many significant works by well-known figures of the 17th century while also uncovering forgotten masterpieces, including many modern premieres. With dramatic flair and sensitivity to historical context, Magnificat imbues each concert with an infectious joy and a delight in musical make-believe.

Over the past decade Magnificat has taken a special interest in promoting the works of women composers, undertaking a project to record the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, devoting programs to the music of Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi and Isabella Leonarda and hosting a conference on Women and Music in Seventeenth Century Italy.

In addition to their annual series, Magnificat has appeared five times on the Berkeley Early Music Festival and Exhibition and has been presented numerous times on the San Francisco Early Music Society concert series. In September 2011 they were presented at the Bloomington Early Music Festival in a program of selections from Monteverdi's Madrigals of War & Love. Magnificat has also been presented by Music Before 1800, The Seattle Early Music Guild, The Tropical Baroque Festival, The CarMel Bach Festival, and The Sonoma County Bach Society and by the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music. Magnificat has recorded for Koch International and Musica Omnia.

ABOUT THE WHOLE NOYSE: The Whole Noyse is celebrating its twenty-sixth year as one of the country's leading early brass ensembles. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the group models itself after the versatile wind bands of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; its primary instruments are cornetts, sackbuts, and curtal. In keeping with the variety of instrumentation expected of early players, its members double on a number of other early instruments, making use of recorders, flutes, crumhorns, shawms, slide trumpet, gittern, violin, and viola. The group takes its name from a term from Renaissance England, when a musical ensemble was called a "noise" (usually spelled "noyse" at the time); a quintet was then known as a "whole noyse."

In 2010, the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine, The Whole Noyse was invited to participate in more than a dozen performances of the work in cities around the US and Canada, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis, Austin, San Antonio, Vancouver, Calgary, Honolulu, Houston, and Dallas. The group has collaborated with some of North America's most respected early music ensembles, including Magnificat, The King's Noyse, The Newberry Consort, Ars Lyrica, and Sex Chordae Consort of Viols, as well as a number of choirs, including the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Pro Coro Canada, San Francisco Choral Artists, Schola Cantorum, and AVE. The ensemble participated in a staged performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo with Pro Coro Canada in Edmonton in 2008, and it premiered a composition, Marina, written exclusively for it, along with the San Francisco Choral Artists, by Bay Area composer Ted Allen in 2009.

The group has performed alone on the concert series of numerous early music societies and in other venues. Its solo recording, Lo Splendore d'Italia, is available on the Helicon label. It can also be heard on recordings by Magnificat, the San Francisco Bach Choir, and the Vancouver Cantata Singers of major works of the seventeenth century; the Vancouver Cantata Singers' CD Venetian Vespers of 1640 was nominated for a Juno Award and won the Outstanding Choral Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors.

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO EARLY MUSIC SOCIETY: Founded in 1975, SFEMS is the leading early music community-based service and membership organization in the US. Under the direction of Harvey Malloy, it is the focal institution in Northern California for the advancement of historically informed performance of early music. Through its concert series, publications, outreach activities, affiliate support and educational programs, SFEMS encourages the development of amateurs, supports professionals, and increases public involvement and participation in early music. SFEMS is the lead presenter of the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of early music.

Warren Stewart, artistic director

Clara Rottsolk, soprano
Jennifer Paulino, soprano
Andrew Rader, countertenor
Clifton Massey, countertenor
Christopher LeCluyse, tenor
Daniel Hutchings, tenor
Hugh Davies, bass
Peter Becker, bass
John Dornenburg, violone
John Lenti, theorbo
Katherine Heater, organ

Stephen Escher, cornett
Alexandra Opsahl, cornett
Richard Van Hessel, sackbut
Ernie Rideout, sackbut
Herbert Myers, curtal
Gayle Neumann, sackbut
Phil Neumann, sackbut

A Venetian Christmas Mass

Giovanni GABRIELI: Kyrie à 5, 8 and 12 (1615)
Claudio MONTEVERDI: Gloria à 7 (1640)
GABRIELI: Canzona VIII à 8 (1615)
MONTEVERDI: Credo concertato (1640)
GABRIELI: Quem vidistis pastores (1615)
GABRIELI: Sanctus à 12 (1615)
MONTEVERDI: O bone Iesu (1622)
MONTEVERDI: Agnus Dei à 6 and 7 (1610)
GABRIELI: Canzona XII à 8 (1615)
GABRIELI: Omnes gentes plaudite manibus (1597)

The concerts are set for Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 | PALO ALTO at 8pm at First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton; Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 | BERKELEY at 7:30pm at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way; and Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 | SAN FRANCISCO at 4pm at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell.

Individual tickets: $35 General/$32 Seniors/$30 SFEMS members. Subscriptions: $180 for the full 6-concert series ($160 for SFEMS members). Choose 3 concerts for $95 ($84 for SFEMS members). Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 510-528-1725, Monday through Thursday, 9am to 11:30am.