Academic journal article Sacred Music

The Renaissance Weekend

Academic journal article Sacred Music

The Renaissance Weekend

Article excerpt

The Renaissance Polyphony Weekend under the direction of Dr. William Mahrt celebrated its twentieth anniversary February 18-20.

Each year, lovers of great polyphony gather together in Dallas for a full weekend of singing music of the great European polyphonic masters. This year, in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of the Vespers of 1610 by the Venetian master Claudio Monteverdi, director William Mahrt chose a late mass setting of Monteverdi, a motet by his forerunner Luca Marenzio, motets by other lesser-known but fine composers including, Sebastian de Vivanco (1550-1622), Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591), and the proper chants for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary time.

The value of such a weekend intensive lies in the opportunity to learn and know the music of the great polyphonic masters from the inside out. To understand this music, to experience it fully, it must be sung. This year, we were able to experience a mass by a master of both the prima prattica and the seconda prattica, terms as Dr. Mahrt pointed out, were coined by Monteverdi himself. The mass is a fascinating amalgamation of the two styles, both the "old" polyphonic species counterpoint, and the "new" homophonic/basso continuo style where text painting was key. …

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