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KPFA to Broadcast Newly Released Recording of Cozzolani Motet

November 25, 2009

Release of Ecce annuntio vobis to mark the launch of Cozzolani Project

A recently completed recording of the Christmas motet Ecce annuntio vobis will receive it’s broadcast premiere on KPFA’s program “A Musical Offering” on Sunday morning November 29th. I will be a guest of the program’s host Mary Berg from 7:30 to 8:45 (it is an early music program!) to talk about Cozzolani and Magnificat’s upcoming performances of her Mass and motets, and to listen to some of her remarkable music. The motet is scheduled for broadcast around 8:00 am.

Jennifer Ellis Kampani

Jennifer Ellis Kampani

Ecce annuntio vobis was featured on Magnificat’s first performances of Cozzolani’s music in December 1999 as part of the San Fancisco Early Music Society concert series. Jennifer Ellis Kampani’s exhilirating interpretation of this soprano showpiece was captured by Musica Omnia’s  producer Peter Watchorn and engineer Peter Watchorn in a recording session just over a year later. Jennifer was joined by David Tayler (theorbo) and Hanneke van Proosdij (organ) for the recordings, which took place at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Belvedere.

The Christmas subject of the text meant that it was not included in either of Magnificat’s CDs released by Musica Omnia, since they were built around liturgies from other feasts (Annunciation for Vespro della Beata Vergine and Easter for Messa Paschale). It will be performed, along with Cozzolani’s setting of the mass and four other motets, on Magnificat’s concerts on the weekend of December 4-6 with Jennifer singing of course. Read more…

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Chiara Margarita Cozzolani Gets a Facebook Page

November 22, 2009

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

By all accounts the nuns at the convent of Santa Radegonda in the 17th Century did not have internet access and so it had to wait until the 21st century for Chiara Margarita Cozzolani to launch get her own Facebook page. With her birthday coming up on November 27th in seemed like an especially appropriate time. As Magnificat prepares for our upcoming performances of  phenomenal music of the Benedictine nun from Santa Radegonda, it occurred to us that she deserved a Facebook page. Please visit and become a fan!

Magnificat has benefited tremendously from Robert Kendrick’s path-breaking research into convent music in Milan as well as the work of other scholars like Colleen Reardon, Craig Monson, Gabriella Zarri, Ann Mather, and so many others who have helped us developed a deeper appreciation for the music written and performed in convents in the 17th Century. We are also grateful for the excellent work of Candace Smith and Capella Artemesia not only in performing Cozzolani’s music but also making it available, along with the music of other cloistered composers of the period, through Artemesia Editions.

When Magnificat first performed Cozzolani’s music in 1999 as part of the San Francisco Early Music Society concert series, there had been very few performances of her music. Over the past decade she has begun to received the attention she so richly deserves. We will be trying to draw attention to other performances and recordings that we hear about.

While Magnificat created the page and will maintain it, we are looking forward to posts from musicians, scholars, and music lovers across the globe who have been inspired by Cozzolani’s music. So, while it’s a bit Magnificat-centric to begin with, we are hoping to hearfrom the many others who are involved in performing, studying and enjoying Cozzolani’s extraordinary music.

Magnificat at The Early Music Musician’s Bazaar

November 22, 2009

(click for larger image)

Magnificat will be participating in the second annual Early Music Musician’s Bazaar. Among the delights available for purchase will be CD’s, concert tickets, sheet music & lots of other fun stuff.  The Bazaar will take place from 10 am to 3 pmon Saturday December 12 at MusicSources, 1000 The Alameda, Berkeley. It’s a great opportunity for holiday shopping that will support the Bay Area early music community,

As one of the organizers (and Magnificat musician) Hanneke van Proosdij explains, “it’s a community event bringing together the early music groups and supporting the local musicians. Basically there are a bunch of vendor tables spread out throughout the entire lower floor of MusicSources. People can drop in, peruse the stuff, hang out and eat way too much chocolate.”

The stellar list of participants in the Bazaar includes Cançonièr, Ensemble Vermillian, Farallon Recorder Quartet , The Festival Consort, Glen Shannon Music, Healing Muses, Junior Recorder Society, La Monica, Les Grâces, Musica Pacifica, San Francisco Early Music Society, Shira Kammen, and Voices of Music.

You can visit the Early Music Musician’s Bazaar on Facebook.

Chiara Margarita Cozzolani in her World

November 18, 2009

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

In November 2002, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani’s birth, Magnificat hosted a conference on Women and Music in 17th Century Italy at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. In additions to two performances by Magnificat, four scholars presented papers on aspects of the role of women in musical life in Italy during the period. Robert Kendrick, whose research has contributed tremendously to our understanding of Cozzolani and the musical culture in Milan in general, contributed this article and has graciously granted permission to repost it here.

Robert Kendrick

Robert Kendrick

We are here to examine the diversity of nuns’ culture in early modern Italy, on the immediate occasion of roughly the 400th anniversary of one sister’s birth—that of the Milanese Benedictine Chiara Margarita Cozzolani—and of the performances of her music brought to you this weekend by Magnificat. If there is anything that we have learned over the past fifteen years of study, it is that the work of any single nun has to be informed by the conditions of family status, local and institutional history, and musical trends of the time. My other colleagues here present will give you some idea of the diverse traditions and problems of female monastic culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, and so I would like to place Cozzolani’s output in her world—familial, institutional, musical.

It is impossible, however, not to look for personal and individual traits in the production—musical or other—of nuns. In the case of Cozzolani, this is still a rather frustrating experience, precisely because of the lack of detailed information about her background, musical training and activity, and life trajectory. Other musical nuns of the century – Lucrezia Vizzana, Claudia Rusca, Maria Francesca Piccolomini – have left, directly or indirectly, far more documentation about their lives, public and personal.

Duomo and Santa Radegonda

The Duomo in Milan with the convent of Santa Radegonda on the left.

Central to the person she would become was her family. The most recent documentary fragments I have found in the Milanese archives testify to the presence of her family in Milan from the 15th century onwards, although they do not give us the exact trade or profession of family members.  What is clear, however, is that her ancestors were not members of the patrician nobility, and therefore they were excluded from the city’s Senate and other legislative bodies. It is most likely that they were well-off merchants or artisans at the very top of  their social class, rich enough to afford workshops in the center of town and to send their daughters—both in Chiara’s generation and the ones before and after her—into the high-class convent of S. Radegonda, where she would have rubbed shoulders with women of superior caste status. The so-called “spiritual dowry” necessary for the admission of a young woman into this house was at the most expensive levels of the time, and since Chiara had a older sister who professed her vows at the convent about four years earlier, the family would have had to come up with a good amount of money in a short time, between 1615 and 1619, the respective beginning of the novitiate year for the two sisters.  Read more…

Jubilate to Perform Bach’s Magnificat and Christmas Oratorio with San Francisco Choral Society

November 17, 2009

The San Francisco Choral Society

On December 5th and 6th, the Jubilate Orchestra will join with The San Francisco Choral Society for performances of Parts 4-6 of J.S. Bach’s magnificent Christmas Oratorio. The concerts complete the cycle begun a year ago when the first half of the oratorio and continue a long relationship between the two ensembles. Jubilate performed Bach’s Magnificat with the Choral Society in 2004.

Like Magnificat, the San Francisco Choral Society was established in 1989 and since then has shared their joy and enthusiasm for choral music with more than 60,000 concertgoers. The Choral Society’s year-round program offers singers the opportunity to perform major choral works with professional orchestras and soloists in front of live audiences. They also provide low-cost music instruction to our singers in the form of classes and workshop and a student internship program.

Jubilate has worked with the Choral Society’s director Robert Geary in numerous projects over the past two decades. In addition to concerts with the Choral Society, Geary conducts the Piedmont East Bay Childrens Choirs and Volti – both choirs that regularly collaborate with Jubilate.

For more information about the San Francisco Choral Society and the upcoming concerts please visit their website.

Considering Athanasius Kircher at AMS Philadelphia

November 8, 2009

Representing Magnificat, I will be attending the annual conference of the American Musicological Society in Philadelphia this later this week. It has been several years since I’ve had the opportunity to attend the AMS conference and I am looking forward to meeting old colleagues, making new friends and listening to the wide range of presentations on current work being done in musicology. The conference program is available for download (PDF) and the abstracts for papers can be downloaded here (PDF). Over the week I will be highlighting some of the sessions relevant to the music and culture of the 17th Century and posting abstracts from the scheduled papers.

Kircher - guido's Hand

Guido's Hand from Kircher, Musurgia universalis (1650)

A particularly interesting short session on the fascinating figure Athanasius Kircher scheduled for the opening afternoon of the conference. I encountered Kircher while preparing the first program on the very first Magnificat series concert in 1992, which included Carissimi’s magnificent oratorio Jephte. In his monumental Musurgia universalis (1650) Kircher mentions Jephte and also reproduced the music for the final chorus, Plorate filii Israel, citing it as an example of excellent rhetorical style and providing musicologists with a convenient terminus ante quem for the dating of Carissimi’s masterpiece. Since then, details of Kircher’s fantastic and curious engravings have occasionally  made their way into Magnificat’s programs, websites, and brochures, including his representation of Guido’s hand.

Recent scholarly interest in Kircher has resulted in a wealth of resources on the web. Stanford University hosts a website project devoted to Kircher, with a wealth of information and selection of images from works by and related to Athanasius Kircher present in the collections of Stanford University Libraries. Fr. Edward W. Schmidt, SJ has published an excellent book Athansius Kircher: The Last Renaissance Man, the website for which includes many of Kircher’s engravings. The useful website Kircherianum Virtuale provides links to a many sites devoted to the Kircher. Read more…

Re-Composing Cozzolani – Magnificat to Perform Modern Premiere of Lost Work

November 6, 2009

Listen to Cozzolani’s Music

O Praeclara dies Page 1

The first page of "O Præclara dies"

We are fortunate that Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, unlike most of the nuns composing for convents in the 17th century, had the opportunity to publish some of her music. Had her works not been printed on the press of Venetian publisher Alessandro Vincenti, they would most likely have met the same fate of the vast majority of music recorded solely in manuscript – lost in a fire, sold as scrap paper, or simply discarded when musical fashions changed.

Only two of Cozzolani’s four published collections survived into modern times complete: Concerti Sacri … (1642), which includes the four voice Mass that Magnificat will perform in December, and Salmi a Otto Voci … (1650), from which the psalms in our Vespers programs are drawn. Sadly, the one part book from her first publication of motets Primavera di fiori musicali (1640) that survived into the 20th Century was destroyed in 1945 along with the entire Berlin Singakademie library. However, in the case of her collection of solo motets Scherzi di Sacra Melodia … (1648), we still have the soprano part book, though the basso continuo part book has been lost.

Over the past decade that Magnificat has been performing and recording Cozzolani’s music, there have been three previous programs on which we have performed motets from the Scherzi with newly “re-composed” continuo parts. In our upcoming performances on the weekend of December 4-6, Catherine Webster will sing the Christmas motet O præclara dies from the 1648 collection in what will most likely be a modern premiere. Read more…