Vajra Voices With Shira Kammen And Kit Higginson to Perform New Year's Concert
The San Francisco Early Music Society's 2017-18 concert season resumes the weekend of January 5 with three concerts by Vajra Voices performing a program of medieval song. Joined by Shira Kammen and Kit Higginson on vielle, harp, recorder and psaltery,
Vajra Voices celebrates the mystery and wonder of the new year.
Vajra Voices performs at 8 p.m. Friday, January 5 at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 6 at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley; and at 4 p.m. Sunday, January 7 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Individual tickets from $15 to $45 as well as season subscription packages are available for purchase online at sfems.org.
For their concerts next year, Vajra Voices performs some of the earliest extant polyphonic music, drawing on a collection of manuscripts from the Abbey of St. Martial in Limoges, France. The various textures of Gregorian chant, French motets, rondeaux, ballads and praise poems for the Virgin Mary interweave to form an ethereal carpet ride back to a time when chivalry and spirituality linked arm in arm.
Based in the Bay Area, Vajra Voices is a women's vocal ensemble that sings medieval to modern music in a style inspired by Hildegard von Bingen that is "clear, sweet, and strong."
Under the direction of Karen R. Clark, the seven-member ensemble debuted on the Berkeley Festival Fringe series in 2010. Vajra Voices released its debut album in 2016, O Eterne Deus: Music of Hildegard von Bingen with instrumentalist Kammen, to international acclaim. "This is the most convincing Hildegard disc yet from the USA" (Choir & Organ). Earlier this year, the group premiered a new improvisatory composition by Theresa Wong on texts by the 12th-century teacher and poet, Sun Bu'er.
Multi-instrumentalist Shira Kammen has spent much of her life exploring the worlds of early and traditional music of all kinds. A member for many years of the early music Ensembles Alcatraz and Project Ars Nova, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, Kitka, Anonymous IV, the King's Noyse, the Newberry and Folger Consorts, The Compass of the Rose, storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, singers Azam Ali and Joanna Newsom, Calextone and the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, among others.
Kit Higginson was a founding member of the medieval music group Ensemble Alcatraz and was formerly a member of Holly Alonso's La Corte Musical. He has also appeared with Anne Azema, The Boston Camerata, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, The Oregon Bach Festival, San Francisco Opera Center and vocalist Lauren Pomerantz. He has recorded for Nonesuch, Hänssler Classics, Erato and Harmonia Mundi USA. In addition to his performing experience, Higginson currently serves as the Production Manager for the record label Music & Arts Programs of America.
NEXT CONCERT February 2 - 4, 2018 | AGAVE BAROQUE with Reginald MobleyBased in the Bay Area, Agave Baroque specializes in string chamber music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Agave has received numerous awards and accolades, and gained local and national attention for its "rapturous music," "brilliant... profound playing" (EMA Magazine), and growing discography. Now in its ninth season, Agave continues its fruitful affiliations with star countertenor Reginald Mobley with whom it will perform an emotionally charged program exploring the stylus fantasticus that evolved in the countries and territories ravaged by the Thirty Years' War: works by Johann Christoph Bach, David Pohle, Johann Pachelbel and more.
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 Executive Director Harvey Malloy and President Joyce Johnson Hamilton, 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.