CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 19, 1999
Early music group to revisit ends of centuries from
1599 back to 999
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Collegium Musicum
will honor the imminent turn of the century with "Fins des siecles"
("Ends of centuries"), a program of music taken from the 99-numbered
years of seven centuries, starting with 1599 and working back to 999, at 8
p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The concert, under the direction of Elizabeth Aubrey,
will be free and open to the public.
The Collegium Musicum is the ensemble at the UI School
of Music devoted to the study and performance of music from the Middle Ages,
Renaissance and Baroque. The members are music students and faculty of the
UI and members of the local community.
Aubrey says the programming of music from previous "ends
of centuries" is more than a gimmick. "It is striking that the ends
of centuries have often seen experimentation by composers and performers that
stretched the bounds of tradition," she explains. "Significant changes
in musical style often coincided with the turn of a century, and theorists
described these changes as the replacement of the old with the
The performance will open with music taken from music
books published in 1599 in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy. These
will include simple settings of Psalms and other sacred texts for home devotional
use, from Richard Alisons "Psalter"; Thomas Morleys
"First Booke of Consort Lessons" for mixed instruments; and Italian
composer Luca Marenzios ninth book of madrigals. Also included are late
works by Spanish composer Francesco Guerrero, who died of the plague in 1599.
The pieces representing 1499 are taken from music books
and manuscripts from the early 1500s, a time when the Venetian printer Ottavio
Petrucci was producing some of the very first books of printed music. Many
of the pieces in Petruccis books represent music of the late 15th century,
including works by Heinrich Isaac and Josquin des Prez, the leading composers
of the day.
Aubrey admits that as the program proceeds back in time,
it becomes more difficult to establish precise date for pieces of music. For
1399, the Collegium will perform music by Johannes Ciconia, who was one of
the most important composers at the end of the 14th century and the beginning
of the 15th.
The end of the 13th century was a time of exploration,
when composers challenged musical forms, styles, and procedures that had prevailed
for a century. The Collegium Musicum will represent the year 1299 with a motet
-- a piece in which different texts are combined atop a melody from liturgical
chant -- by Petrus de Cruce, an obscure figure about whom almost nothing is
known, as well as several anonymous pieces.
For 1199, the Collegium will perform music of the "ars
antiqua"("old art") of the late 11th and early 12th centuries,
pieces by two choirmasters at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris known as Leoninus
and Perotinus. Since an ordinance from 1198 decrees the use of certain specific
pieces during the Feast of the Circumcision, those pieces will be included
on the program.
The renowned abbess Hildegard of Bingen died in 1098,
but her chants and treatises were carefully preserved by her nuns. The unusual
music and texts that she composed continued to be sung at her convents long
after her death.
Finally, the program will conclude with music from one
of the earliest medieval manuscripts that contains music, a liturgical book
for the daily round of services celebrated by monks and nuns. Known as the
Hartker Antiphoner, it was copied around the year 1000 and probably represents
music that would have been sung in 999.
Aubrey has directed the Collegium Musicum since 1982.
A faculty member in the musicology area in the UI School of Music, she is
known internationally as a scholar of medieval music and literature. She has
published articles and reviews in scholarly journals including Early Music
History, The Journal of Musicology, Acta Musicologica and Historical Performance.
She is a contributor to the forthcoming revised edition of "The New Grove
Dictionary of Music and Musicians" and to the new edition of the German
music reference work "Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart" (Music
in history and the present).
Her first book, "The Music of the Troubadours,"
was published in 1996 to enthusiastic reviews. The Times (London) Literary
Supplement wrote that it is "a down-to-earth treatment which should ensure
that (the book) remains of value for many years to come," and the Music
Library Association journal Notes called the book "a monument in musicology,
one no music library should be without." A second book, an anthology
of songs by medieval women musicians, will be published next year by Yale
Aubrey is also widely known as a performer of early music
and is regularly consulted by musicians and scholars for her expertise in
performance practice. She has presented solo recitals in medieval songs in
the United States, Canada and Europe. Besides singing she also plays recorder,
lute, viola da gamba and harp. Before becoming director of the UI Collegium
Musicum, she was music director of A Newe Jewell, an early-music ensemble
in Washington, D.C.
Aubrey has served on the Council of the American Musicological
Society, the Board of Directors of the International Machaut Society, the
editorial board of the journal Historical Performance, and a term as president
of the Midwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society. She has received
grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment
for the Humanities. Aubrey received her bachelors degree from Grinnell
College, and both master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland.
She has been on the faculty of the UI since 1982.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.