Visiting Artists

Visiting Artists
Cappella Pratensis

Capella-72The Williams College Department of Music presents Cappella Pratensis in concert on Saturday, February 22, at 8 p.m. in Thompson Memorial Chapel on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.

About Cappella Pratensis

The Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis – literally ‘Cappella des prés’ – champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programs and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight. As in Josquin’s time, the members of Cappella Pratensis perform from a central music stand, singing from the original mensural notation scored in a large choirbook. This approach, together with attention to the linguistic origin of the compositions and the modal system on which it is based, offers a unique perspective on the repertoire.

About the Program

For their appearance in Thompson Memorial Chapel at Williams, Cappella Pratensis combines forces with Williams College Professor of Music M. Jennifer Bloxam to present a program titled “Royal Exequies: Music for the Funeral of Philip the Fair.”

In the Renaissance, as now, the passing of a major figure was accompanied by elaborate rituals and expressions of public grief, as a way of channeling emotion and assuring transition in the great order of things. The death of the Hapsburg-Burgundian archduke Philip the Fair in 1506 called for especially elaborate arrangements, as that death – in mysterious circumstances – had far-reaching implications for his wife, the Spanish queen Joanna the Mad, their six children, and indeed the whole European political scene. An event of this magnitude was carried out with the greatest solemnity, and likely included the exquisite polyphonic setting of the Requiem Mass by one of the leading composers of the day, Pierre de la Rue, chapelmaster at the Hapsburg-Burgundian court.

The program begins with an illustrated lecture-demonstration that will explore the context and significance of music for the Requiem ritual. Cappella Pratensis will then present an evocation of Philip’s funerary rites in a performance of La Rue’s rich and sonorous Requiem, one of the very first polyphonic settings of the Mass for the Dead. The Mass is accompanied by other music of mourning by La Rue and Josquin Desprez appropriate to this important moment in European history.