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Blue Heron

The Blue Heron Renaissance Choir will present a concert titled, A Century of French Song, featuring chansons of the fifteenth century. This free event is sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Performing Arts Endowment and open to the public.

Symbolic of our ephemeral world, the blue heron, capable of inspiring us with its beauty and majesty, enriches our spirit as long as we are mindful.Its beauty is not enough to preserve it, nor can it be taken for granted. It takes an active effort to preserve such lovely and delicate things.

The Boston-based Blue Heron Renaissance Choir is a vocal ensemble that combines a commitment to vivid live performance of Renaissance music with the study of original source materials and historical performance practice. While of great interest to scholars, this repertoire also retains an immediacy even centuries after its creation, a power both touching and visceral. Performing to critical acclaim, Blue Heron explores diverse repertories, including fifteenth-century English and Franco-Flemish polyphony by composers such as Dunstable, Du Fay, Ockeghem and Josquin; Spanish music between about 1500 and 1575; and neglected early sixteenth-century English music, especially the rich and unexplored repertory of the Peterhouse partbooks (c. 1540).

The ensemble also reaches outside these areas, performing very early music (organa by the twelfth-century French composer Perotinus), very recent music (new works by Elliott Gyger), and more, including the complete Eighth Book of Madrigals by Luca Marenzio, prepared for the international Marenzio conference at Harvard University in April 2006. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, Blue Heron presents its own series of concerts in Cambridge and performs regularly throughout the northeast. Its first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in March of 2007 on the Blue Heron label.

In this concert, five singers and three instrumentalists will perform songs by Guillaume Du Fay (c. 1397-1474) and Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460), two of the most celebrated European composers of first part of the fifteenth century, credited by their contemporaries with bringing a new sweetness to continental music. From the next generation are songs by Busnoys, Ockeghem, Morton and Frye. Music by all six of these composers appears in the so-called “Chansonnier cordiforme,” a lavishly illustrated and gilded heart-shaped songbook from the latter half of the fifteenth century. Blue Heron’s instrumentalists will play harps, as well as fiddles or vielles, rebec, recorder, and dou├žaine, a soft double-reed instrument.

It is thanks to the commitment of the performers and scholars involved in Blue Heron that the delicate beauty of French Renaissance song can be rescued from obscurity, and words and melodies more than 500 years old brought back to life to please modern minds and ears.

For more information: http://www.blueheronchoir.org/