|Saturday 9th November 2013 at 5pm|
Glebe Music Festival
In conjunction with The Glebe Society Inc
Josie and the Emeralds
Belinda Montgomery: soprano
What sort of music was around during Jeanne d’Arc’s short life? What sort of music might have been inspired by her life and legends? This programme is a musical portrait of Jenne and an offering of musical gifts in celebration of her 600th (or possibly 601st) birthday.
France in the 15th century
In 1429, Jenne d’Arc was 16 or 17 and the state of France was near collapse. The Hundred Years’ War had begun in 1337 and although there had been periods of relative peace, almost all the fighting had taken place on French soil. By now, the economy was devastated due to France’s isolation from foreign markets and particularly due to the English army’s scorched earth strategies. Nearly all of northern France and some parts of the southwest were under foreign control, by the English or their allies, the Burgundians.
Jeanne d’Arc’s rise to fame
Jeanne d’Arc was born in 1412 or 1413, in Domrémy, and isolated village in eastern France that remained loyal to the French crown despite being surrounded by Burgundian lands. When Jeanne was 19, and on trial for heresy, she testified that at the age of about twelve, she experienced her first vision. This was that Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret and Saint Michael told her to drive out the English and the Burgundians, and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. From about the age of 16, she made two attempts to visit the Royal Court at Chinon, only succeeding the second time thanks to making a remarkable prediction about a military reversal near Orléans.
Although Jeanne was eventually granted permission to travel with and even lead the army, this may have been the response of a desperate regime that felt it had run out of all rational options. Nevertheless, despite being excluded from war councils, Jeanne proved to be a successful military strategist and an inspiring leader. In May 1429, she led two daring surprise attacks to defeat the English and the Burgundians to lift their siege of Orléans. It was at this point that her fame began to spread.
Ditié de Jeanne d’Arc
In 1429, the writer Christine de Pizan was 65 and for the last ten years had been retired at the monastery of Poissy where her daughter was a nun. Previously, Christine had supported her family as the official biographer of Charles V, writing histories, poetry, romances, manuals of warfare, and treatises on poetry and prose. Her most famous literary work, The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), was a response to misogynist themes in Jean de Meun’s The Romance of the Rose. In The Book of the City of Ladies Christine argues that women should be active participants in society and of equal moral and social worth to men.
It seems that Jeanne d’Arc’s victory at Orléans was such an inspiration that she came out of retirement to write the Ditié de Jeanne d’Arc, the only surviving work written about Jeanne during her lifetime. The Ditié de Jeanne d’Arc is 61 stanzas long and would take over an hour to perform. Therefore, the version being presented in the concert is an abridged version in translation, in an attempt to recreate the direct, popular style of the vernacular, which must have been Christine’s intention. Her mention of Charles and the ‘bizarre’ happenings around him probably refers to the Treaty of Troyes, 1420, signed by Charles’ mother Isabeau of Bavaria who effectively disinherited him by passing the French kingdom to Henry V of England.
The Armoured Woman
When Jeanne first left Domrémy to visit Charles at Chinon, she made the journey through hostile Burgundian territory in male disguise. From the time she was allowed to travel with the French army she was also given permission to be dressed as a knight. However, at her trial, her cross-dressing was used against her, to ‘prove’ her heretical inclinations!
The origin of this popular melody is a bit of a mystery: one suggestion is that it represents St Michael the Archangel, another is that it refers to a popular tavern (Maison de L’homme armé) near Dufay’s rooms in Cambrai. But could the armoured man also represent the famously cross-dressed Jeanne d’Arc? By the mid-15th century L’homme armé was beginning to appear in polyphonic instrumental works and three examples are presented in today’s concert. The first example by Japart combines L’homme armé with another popular melody Il est de bonne heure né. The second rather mysterious example which may or may not be by Josquin treats an abstracted version of L’homme armé semi-canonically. The final example, by Robert Morton, is the most upbeat, lively version, and it is impossible to resist adding some sprightly divisions (ornaments).
Donnés l’assault a la fortresse
In this extraordinary piece, Dufay uses triadic and fanfare-like figures to reinforce that well-worn war/love metaphor. Taken literally, one might think that the ‘lady’ is always female, and a passively helpless one. But alternative interpretations of courtly love can position the lady as symbolic for almost any character or concept. At least one could say that she is certainly not Jeanne! The piece is performed today as an antidote to conventional courtly love interpretations and because musically, it is simply great fun.
Imprisonment and consolation
After her victory Orléans, Jeanne led the army to several other recoveries, culminating in what must have been one of her proudest moments: standing beside Charles VII for his coronation at Reims, 17 July 1429. More victories ensued, led by Jeanne, and on 29 December she and her family were granted nobility. However, in May 1430 she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundians and sold to the English for 10,000 pounds. She was imprisoned until January 1431, awaiting her trial.
Puisque celle qui me tient en prison (Since she, who has me in prison….)
Only the opening line of the text survives perhaps because the text was considered to be so well known there was no need to set it all out with the music. It is thanks to Alejandro Planchart who is currently preparing the New Dufay Edition, that Brooke Green was able to obtain the music and translation for Puisque and Adieu. Alejandro Planchart believes Puisque was written in the late 1430s.
Ave Maris Stella
Jeanne always believed she had been chosen by God to liberate France and she effectively turned what he been a political conflict into a religious war. For the French, she portrayed herself as God’s envoy which meant that for the English she was seen as an agent of the devil. Once imprisoned, one can imagine she turned to Saints such as Mary, for comfort.
The trial of Jeanne d’Arc
Jeanne’s trial for heresy began on 9 January 1431 at Rouen. A religious trial was deemed necessary for its symbolic importance. If an ecclesiastical court could pronounce her an heretic, this would prove she was in fact an agent of the devil and that God was on the side of the English. Jeanne was convicted in May 1431 as a ‘relapsed heretic and idolator’, and she was burned at the stake in Rouen on 30 May 1431.
Adieu, quitte le demeurant de ma vie (Farewell, I leave the rest of my life….)
According to Alejandro Planchart, Adieu was probably written when Dufay was at Cambrai in the 1440s. This is because of the strict imitative technique Adieu demonstrates, along with its rhythmic subtlety.
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Jeanne claimed that when she was about twelve, the voices of Saint Catherine, Saint Margaret and Saint Michael instructed her to liberate France on behalf of God. Dufay’s Veni Sancte Spiritus is performed today with two sopranos and tenor viol to represent symbolically these mysterious voices.
Throughout the 15th century, it was still not unusual to regard one’s life as being determined by both God and Lady Fortune. Supposedly God would reward virtuous acts while Lady Fortune was fickle and indiscriminate. Fortuna Desperata was one of the most popular tunes of the time and it became the basis of many polyphonic settings, including a sumptuous 6-part one by the musically adventurous Agricola whose last post was as a singer in the chapel of Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy.
This Body is Not Me
This song has a rather complex history. On 15 August 2012, Brooke Green played some music for a friend, Jane Barton, who was at her home with friends and family in the last stages of life after a long illness. The music unwittingly chosen by Brooke was a solo for vielle based on Commencerai de faire un lai by the 13th century Thibaut IV, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne. This is Thibaut’s only surviving example of the rare lai religieux and here the poet-persona appeals to the Virgin to intercede for him in his hour of need. Jane took her last breath while Brooke was playing this lai. She picked her time. Afterwards, it was realized that she had died on the day of Mary’s Assumption. Brooke also performed this lai at Jane’s funeral and memorial service, and at those events the text for This Body is Not Me was read. A year later, for another event in memory of Jane, Brooke set the text to the lai to form the basis of the work played today.
The Shades is an antiquated term for ghosts and a modern one for sunglasses. Ghosts with sunglasses? Ideally, the performers would be wearing sunnies whilst playing but it all depends on the light! In July 2013, The Shades won the Audience Prize as one of four prize-winners at the Tenth International Leo M, Traynor Composition Competition for New Music for Viols, sponsored by the Viola da Gamba Society of America.
Fantasy No. 7 for five viols (Jenkins)
Jenkins was a prolific composer whose numerous fantasies provided hours of enjoyment for many viol players in the 17th century. The enjoyment continues to the present day. When the Civil War destroyed the courtly milieu for chamber music, many musicians such as Jenkins sought private employment in wealthy households. It was in this environment that he probably wrote this Fantasy which typically exploits artful counterpoint, beginning in the depths of a murky labyrinth with a darkly sombre mood.
Travelling to the Question
Travelling to the Question is an anonymous commission that after some discussion was reduced to an eclectic brief. Could Brooke write something that would include chant, something by Nick Cave and this quote from Science and Reflection by the philosopher Martin Heidegger?
Travelling in the direction that is a way toward that which is worthy of questioning is not adventure but homecoming.
Thinking about how to set this very dense text brought up various questions: Could it be half sung, half chanted? If set to chant, what type of chant would suit? Did the text need to be quoted in full? This problem circled around Brooke Green for quite a while until finally she realised that it was possible to set a lyric version to the melody of The Carny Song:
Travelling to the question, (travelling to questioning),
Questioning is not an adventure but homecoming.
The Carny Song paints a bleak environment of a down-and-out travelling carnival troupe. The Carny (Carnival Man) is a mysterious figure, who suddenly disappears one day, leaving behind his old skin-and-bone nag, Sorrow. When Sorrow dies, the boss Bellini decides they can’t afford to carry ‘dead weight’ and orders the dwarves to dig a shallow grave. But the body of Sorrow soon floats to the marshy surface, making the dwarves regret they had not done a better job. They are surprised the Carny has not reappeared: one senses he might have magical powers. Somehow his revered but uncertain status reminded Brook of Colm Toibin’s novel The Testament of Mary where Jesus is seen by his mother as moving between rationality and irrationality.
Hildegard was also a questioner, and suffered for her religious convictions and unconventional interpretation of biblical texts. In her chant O Vis Eternitatis she celebrates the Incarnation itself, not Christ’s death, as the central liberating moment in history; and she sees the fallen world freed not so much from sin as from suffering. In Travelling to the Question Brooke Green combines these two visions, whereby the transformative one of Hildegard has the final say.
Sett in C for five viols (Lawes)
The brilliant and musically unconventional composer William Lawes was a good friend of both Jenkins and Charles I, who all played consorts together at court. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Lawes enlisted in the Royal army and died at the siege of Chester in 1645. The grief-struck king declared a special mourning for ‘The Father of Music’ and tributes flowed. The author of Lawes’ epitaph, Thomas Jordan, concluded with a lachrymose pun on the fact that he had died at the hands of those who denied the divine right of kings:
Will. Lawes was slain by such whose wills were laws.
Such ingenious wordplay seems entirely fitting considering Lawes’ music is full of clever conceits and surprising twists and turns. One imagines that he would have played the outer two movements of this Sett with a twinkle in his eye, daring his colleagues not to lose their place when they are confronted with his asymmetrical logic. However, he can also write achingly beautiful lyrical lines, as demonstrated in the second movement of this Sett: the Pavan.
The minimalist composer Michael Nyman describes If as “my most curious project of the 1990s – a Japanese animated film of The Diary of Anne Frank. Roger Pulvers wrote two texts which demanded the only genuine songs I have written for film”. This arrangement is based on one by Richard Boothby, a long-standing player with the English viol consort Fretwork, and both Richard and Michael gave permission for the performance to take place.
After graduating from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the soprano Josie Ryan completed her Masters, specializsng in Early Vocal Music and Historical Performance at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, with the aid of a grant from the Dutch government. She has performed as an ensemble singer with various leading groups across Europe, including The Tallis Scholars, The Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Collegium Vocale Gent. Jose has a broad oratorio and concert solo repertoire, ranging from the early Renaissance to the late Classical period, and enjoys a busy concert schedule.
Her operatic roles include Rameau’s Les fetes d’Hebe (Iphise), Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Ninfa) and Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo (Anima beata). During her 12 years in Europe, Josie sang regularly with the Pinchgut Opera during annual visits to Sydney, and now lives here once again (since November 2009). Josie has recorded numerous CDs and DVDs, including the role of Liebe in Schmelzer’s sepolcro “Stärke der Lieb” and Monteverdi’s 5th and 6th books of Madrigals. In addition to performing regularly with the Emerald City Viols, Josie is frequently engaged as a soloist for other ensembles including Australian Baroque Brass, The Choir of Christ Churct St Laurence, Coro Innominata, The Oriana Chorale and The Marais Project.
Soprano Belinda Montgomery graduated in 1997 from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Music (Honours) in Voice and has since established a freelance career in Sydney, where she is particularly active as an early music specialist. She has appeared regularly with such ensembles as The Marais Project, The Sydney Consort and Salut! Baroque. Solo engagements have included Bach’s Cantatas and Vivaldi Gloria (The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra), Handel’s Dixit Dominus (Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir), Bach’s Mass in B minor, Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Fauré’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and Solemn Vespers (Sydney Chamber Choir), and Steve Reich’s Drumming (Synergy Percussion).
In 2003 Belinda gave the world premiere performance of Andrew Ford’s award-winning song cycle, Learning to Howl. As both a soloist and chorus member, she has performed and recorded extensively with Cantillation, Australia’s leading professional chorus. Belinda sang the role of Iris in Pinchgut Opera’s inaugural production, Handel’s Semele in 2002, and has appeared as soloist and chorister in many subsequent productions.
Brooke Green graduated with a Masters in Early Music Performance from the Early Music Institute, Bloomington, Indiana University, where she studies viol and vielle with Wendy Gillespie. Previously, as a baroque violinist, Brooke spent several years in London, performing with ensembles such as The Hanover Band, The Brandenburg Consort, The London Handel Orchestra, Midsummer Opera and The City of London Chamber Players. In Australia, Brooke performed as a soloist with The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, led various baroque ensembles, and played in others led by Fiona Ziegler. From 1993 to 2006, as Director of Backgammon, Brooke directed many innovative programmes of music on period instruments, in London, Sydney, Tasmania and Honolulu.
For the Viola da Gamba Society of America, Brooke has given a recital of 17th century music for solo treble viol and directed a programme of Australian contemporary music for viol consort. On vielle, Brooke has toured with the US-based Ensemble Lipzodes and directed multi-media, theatrical productions including Machaut’s Le Remede de Fortune, Queer Medieval Tales and O Fortuna for MONA FOMA, 2010. In 2012 Brooke was Musical Director of the Australian Viola da Gamba Society’s Easter Viol School, and will reprise that role in 2014. In 2013, Brooke’s viol quartet The Shades won the Audience prize at the Leo M. Traynor Tenth International Competition for New Music for Viols, at the Viola da Gamba Society of America. Her suite for viol quartet Shades of Presence Past is published by PRB Music.
Fiona Ziegler has been an Assistant Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony since 1995 and plays on her mother’s 250 year-old Testore violin. As one of Sydney’s leading baroque violinists, Fiona has performed with Ensemble de la Reine, the Marais Project and regularly with her own baroque trio, Concertato. She was a founding member of the Australian Fortepiano Trio and Trio Pollastri, and has made regular performances with the Renaissance Players, Sydney Chamber Choir, Coro Innominata, the Sydney Soloists and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Fiona is also a founding member of the Gagliano String Quarter. She was a member of the Sydney String Quartet for four years, is now a member of the recently formed Chanterelle String Quartet and has led the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra since 1992. Since 2006, Fiona has been a regular guest of the acclaimed Grevillea Ensemble, performing exciting and challenging programmes with her friends Wendy Dixon and David Miller. In 2005, Fiona took up the mandolin and became a member of the Sydney Mandolin Orchestra, and the Antipodean Mandolin Ensemble.
In 2010, Laura completed her Bachelor of Music Performance (cello) at the Victorian College of the Arts under the direction of Josephine Vains. During this time, she also studied viola da gamba with Miriam Morris. Laura has participated in masterclasses with Jordi Savall, Jamie Hey, Laura Vaughan and Stanley Richie. She is a regular performer in Melbourne and Sydney with Consort Eclectus and Josie and the Emeralds, and Latitude 37. In 2010, Laura was an ABC Rising Star with fellow viola da gamba player Reidun Turner. Laura is also a passionate teacher and values the importance of musical education, particularly in rural areas. She has worked as a choral accompanist for the Arts Unit and as a cello and choral tutor at various camps. Laura is currently enrolled in a Masters of Primary Teaching at the University of Sydney.
Catherine Upex studied cello with Dorothy Sumner and Georg Pedersen. She attended the University of Sydney, graduating with a BMus (Hons), majoring in Performance in 1997. In 1994, while studying Baroque performance as part of her degree, Catherine started learning the viola da gamba with Jennifer Eriksson. Since 2000, Catherine has performed regularly with the Marais Project and played on several Marais Project CDs including “Viol Dreaming” (2007), “Love Reconciled” (2009) and “Lady Sings the Viol” (2012). She has also performed on the viola da gamba in masterclasses with Wieland Kuijken, Jaap ter Linden, Susie Napper and Margaret Little, and has played with several ensembles including the Renaissance Players, Salut! Baroque, the Sydney Consort, La Folia, Backgammon, Thoroughbass and the Opera Project. As well as the bass viol, Catherine enjoys playing treble viol and has performed on it with the Seaven Teares viol consort since 2010. She has also taught cello at several Sydney schools and currently teaches at the Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School.
Margo is a graduate of the University of Sydney’s Music Department (1st class Hons) and tutored and lectured there, as well as at the Hong Kong University and the University of East Asia. She worked as a fine music radio produced and concert-organiser while resident in Hong Kong over a period of 5 years. Margo has had many years of experience as a singer, keyboard player (piano, organ, harpsichord) and viola da gamba player. On viol, she has performed with the Sydney Chamber Orchestra, Sounds Baroque, Early Dance Consort, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Jacaranda Consort, Arafura Ensemble (Darwin) and Fleur de Lys. She currently teaches piano and musicianship at MLC Burwood, as well as at her home studio, and conducts the Glenbrook Community Singers. Marg’s viol technique is a complex amalgam of influences from Professor Donald Peart, Lucy Robinson, Ruth Wilkinson, Sharyn Rubin, Alison Crum and Lawrence Dreyfus.
Jacques Emery is 16 years of age and has just started year 12 at Mosman High. He studies double bass with David Campbell and percussion with Phillip South. He has a keen interest in jazz and performs with a number of ensembles, ranging from trio to big band. He was principal timpanist with Sydney Youth Orchestra in their performances of the Rite of Spring in 2013, and has been a member of SYO Philharmonic on both bass and percussion. He is one of the youngest bass players to attend the National Music Camp and also composes in his spare time. Jacques is happy to be performing for the third time with the Emeralds.
Brooke Green’s treble viol by jane Julier, Devon, England 2001, after Henry Jaye c.1430.
Brooke Green’s vielle by Judith Kraft, Paris 2010, after late 14th century Italian iconography.
Brooke Green’s tenor viol by John Hall, Sydney 1977 (on loan from The Renaissance Players).
Fiona Ziegler’s tenor viol by Ingo Mathesius, Berlin 1968.
Laura Moore’s bass viol by John Hall, Sydney 1987.
Laura Moore’s treble viol by Chris Twiddle, Queensland 2011 (No. 9).
Catherine Upex’s bass viol by John Hall, 1999.
Catherine Upex’s treble viol by Arnold Dolmetsch, Duslemere 1961.
Margo Adelson’s bass viol by John Hall, Sydney 1977.
Gibbons and the New at the 2012 Glebe Music Festival
I Call and Cry at the 2011 Glebe Music Festival