Sunday, February 26, 2006

O, to be in Morningside Heights!

More than 15 years ago, I found myself obsessed with the vast array of "L'homme armé" masses from the Renaissance.

I tried collecting them on CD, but this was early enough in the days of CD that lots of early music had not come out that way yet. I managed to find Dufay (Hilliard Ensemble, EMI) and De La Rue (Ensemble Clément Janequin, harmonia mundi) and Josquin Desprez's "super voces musicales" (Pro Cantione Antiqua, Archiv), but I had to resort to a cassette from a music teacher for his "sexti toni". Erato put out a L'Homme Armé disc (featuring the Boston Camerata, the Boston Shawm and Sacbut Ensemble, and the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, conducted by Joël Cohen), but although it featured the original anonymous tune on which the masses were based, and one fifteenth-century setting by Robert Morton, the rest of the music was more general early "music of war and peace" of the album's subtitle.

Now I read that Cut Circle from Boston "performed a chimerical Mass--a sort of 'Armed Man' mixtape--composed of movements by Dufay, Busnois, Ockeghem, Regis and Josquin." AND that "This Sunday at Corpus Christi Church in Morningside Heights, the superb chorus Pomerium will perform Ockeghem's Mass in full."

If you have always wondered why this little tune about fearing the armed man and arming your own bad self made its way into so masses (50+ and counting), or what the song was about in the first place, read the article. Meanwhile, if you're anywhere near the Corpus Christi Church, go hear this concert and tell me afterwards how it was.

p.s. If you don't know what all the fuss is about, check out the audio clips.


Rebecca said...

I didn't read this in time... Sorry.

If you ever have the sudden desire to be in Morningside Heights in the future, you should let us know. We're not far from there.

Isis said...

I didn't see it until too late, too. Next time I'll try to stay more on the ball, and take you up on your offer!

Mary said...

Hi there,

I'm not a blogger... just the manager of a small group you've now apparently heard of... I was just so amazed that we came up on someone's blog in SC. Wow. I'd be happy to tell you more about our concert, or hear about why you're randomly so interested in L'homme arme...

Isis said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for your comment: I wish I could have gone to the concert, because what your group is doing sounds marvelous. I'd love to hear more!