02 May 2017
It was a new project at the High Court. I know Charis from SCUNA but now she's running her own choir, I Progetti (Ital. The Projects, obviously) and it's a lovely thing in a lovely space. About 12 singers, SATBB, male and female. Mostly a capella, but one major work had keys and baroque cello and another had a lute sound (again from keys). There's plenty of seriousness here, in how the music is approached and performed and the quality of the singers, but there's just a little amusement, too. I was amused the a first tune was in old Icelandic, but that's just because my wife is about to visit Iceland. We were all amused by the women's songs and their sight disrepute and bawdy disrespect for men. Feminism has a long history. The women with lute accompaniment sang two by Robert Johnson, Will saide to has Mammy and Sweete Kate. The first about Will seeking to marry against his mother's advice; the second is Kate's reply. But there were other themes: celestial harmonies, sung from a High Court balcony; allegories of life - religion, the seasons, one by Calvin Bowman setting the words of Robert Herrick comparing daffodils to the transcience of human life; aspects of love including the womens' earthiness above as well as a setting by bass Mark Chapman of the words of Tennyson called Now sings the crimson petal; age and death and transfiguration. To end, a mass by Monteverdi played with accompaniment of keys and baroque cello. I enjoyed the earlier, but most enjoyed the mass, for its extent, satisfaction, familiarity and additional counterpoint. But a lovely choir that's new to me performing delicious and well informed early music. Somewhat other-wordly for the modern ear but very nice!
I Progetti performed in the High Court foyer. Charis Messalina de Valence (musical director, soprano) led Deirdre Clink and Ngaire Breen (sopranos),Mary Harwood, Mary Woodhouse and Susanah Bishop (altos), Jarrod Grabham, Jonathan Lee and Tristan Struve (tenors), Anthony Smith, Luke Williad and Phill Grant (baritones) and Mark Chapman and Steven Strach (basses) with accompaniment by Anthony Smith (chamber organ) and Clara Teniswood (baroque cello).