Workshop Details

Orlande de Lassus
Prophetiae Sibyllarum and other works


Saturday, 12 February 2011, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm , St Peter’s Church, Maney, Sutton Coldfield B72 1JJ

A Day Workshop for Singers

Tutor: Stephen Rice

Our workshop is devoted music by one of the great masters of late Renaissance music, Orlande de Lassus (1532-94).

Lassus was born at Mons, in present-day Belgium, so he was a Fleming, a member of that numerous tribe which dominated European music for two centuries. He worked extensively in Italy in the early part of his career, but the bulk of it was spent at the court of the Dukes of Bavaria, in Munich, where he died. Lassus was a composer of enormous talent and equally enormous industry; he is supposed to have left over two thousand compositions, and composed in every genre available to the Renaissance musician. He set texts in five languages (not including English). He was also influential, and taught a generation of composers; the Gabrielis, for example, studied with him in Munich in the 1560s and 1570s.

The centrepiece of our programme is a remarkable composition by Lassus, his Prophetiae Sibyllarum (‘Sibylline Prophecies’), a cycle of twelve motets in a chromatic style reminiscent of Gesualdo. This work exemplifies a style of music known in this era as musica reservata, which involved intensely expressive setting of text, and which may have referred to music specifically written for connoisseurs. We will also look at some other, more conventional, compositions by Lassus.

A welcome return as tutor for this workshop for Stephen Rice, who led a well-received workshop on early 16th century polyphony last year. Stephen studied at King's College, Cambridge and King's College, London and gained a doctorate at Oxford in 2004 with a dissertation on the motets of Gombert. He has conducted extensively, both freelance and as Director of the New Chamber Opera Studio and as Director of Music at the Oxford church of St Mary Magdalen. Stephen founded The Brabant Ensemble in 1998 in order to explore little-known Renaissance music. With the Ensemble he has produced recordings of music by such earlier 16th century composers as Clemens, Crecquillon, Manchicourt, Gombert, Morales and Phinot, mainly on the Hyperion label, recordings which have attracted praise and recognition. In 2008 he was awarded a three-year Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to be held at the University of Southampton. Stephen is working on the interaction of theory and practice in mid-sixteenth century sacred music, producing an edition of the works of the French composer Pierre Moulu, and making more recordings. He is also acting as an Area Editor for the forthcoming New Grove Dictionary of Early Music.

There will be opportunities for singers in all voice parts. We will use Stephen’s own editions of the scores. We especially welcome applications from tenors!


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