Streaming of Ravenna Festival Concert
Sunday, Dec 20, 2020 - Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021
Theatre of Voices was supposed to have performed at the Ravenna Festival twice in July 2020. Because of Covid-19 restrictions the ensemble and Ravenna Festival agreed to merge the two planned concert programs and turn it into a video event. The same applied to the Copenhagen Baroque Festival, where Theater of Voices was supposed to have performed on June 20, and a live performance was filmed for both festivals in Copenhagen on Midsummer night, 23rd June in the Church of Trinitatis, Copenhagen. Due to this the Ravenna Festival has chosen to stream all their concerts between 20 December and 6 January, completely free of charge.
England’s great composer William Byrd and the Italian maestro Antonio Ferrabosco (the elder) were from the same generation, and knew each other well enough to make a series of musical pieces together. Those pieces are lost, but we have lots of great music by Byrd of course, and in this concert we can hear one of Ferrabosco’s four sets of Lamentations. This music inspired English composers to do likewise. We also perform a brilliant Fantasia for six viols by Byrd, here specially arranged for voices by Paul Hillier.
Michael Gordon’s “A Western” is a virtuoso fantasy based on the 1950’s film “High Noon” that starred Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. It’s about the Wild West, the gun law, TV fantasies, and of course good guy versus bad guy. The cowboy and his gun are treated as emblems of American mythology. The main character is the sheriff who believes in doing his duty to protect his town from outlaws; but is about to marry a woman who is an ardent pacifist. Michael Gordon’s music doesn’t tell the story so much as refer to it, in order to evoke the atmosphere of 1950’s USA culture into which he was born and grew up. There is even a TV-style commercial in the middle. But if we take the wife’s role into account, the film refuses (or defuses) the attraction of macho gunmen; it presents the child’s dream of being a cowboy hero with affection. This is something that all of us, even in Europe, can appreciate - hence the popularity of Westerns even today. But for adults such dreams are of course not enough. And so the work acts subtly as a critique of the values of consumerism, which leads in turn to the destruction of nature for the purposes of making money.
The concert is a collaboration between Ravenna Festival, Copenhagen Baroque Festival, Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen and Danish Radio P2 - www.dr.dk/P2
Sound recording: Preben Iwan for Danish Radio P2 (https://www.prebeniwan.com/)
Video recording and edit: Julie Malmstrøm (https://www.juliemalmstroem.com/)
Still photos: Reinhard Wilting (https://www.reinhardwilting.com/)
Theatre of Voices in collaboration with Konzertdirektion Hörtnagel, Berlin
Image credit: Reinhard Wilting
Laudibus in sanctis
Emendemus in melius
Fantasia á 6 (II) [arr. Paul Hillier)
Theatre of Voices
-Jakob Bloch Jespersen
Paul Hillier, artistic director