Sunday, May 03, 2009

Interview with Amelia LeClair, Transcript, Part 4

Here's the transcription of the fourth part of my interview with Amelia LeClair. You can find the first part here, the second part here, and the third part is here, and there is more to come. Don't forget that Cappella Clausura, the group she directs, is performing next weekend! They will be at Grace Church in Salem next Sunday, May 10, at 7:30 pm. (They also performed this past weekend - hopefully some of you made it to those concerts!)

Interview with Amelia LeClair at the Cafe Algiers, Cambridge, MA, on 4/22/09, cont.

Q: So I was going to ask you, what’s the current program?
A: The current program is very, very operatic. We’re going to do a bunch of music by Italian women and by French women. And the Italian women are almost all 1600’s, 17th century. With the exception of – well, yes, they’re Renaissance and Baroque, early Baroque. So the style is Monteverdi-ish. One in particular, we’re doing some big pieces of Sulpitia Cesis, great big eight-part motets, really fabulous stuff. We’re doing Cozzolani, some amazing pieces by her, solos and duets. Then the second half of the program is going to be all French, by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, three solos by her, all based on three very strong women in the Bible. Susannah, Esther, Queen Esther, and Judith, who cut off the head of Holofernes, and saved the Israelites. And then we’re doing a fabulous, fabulous very heart-breaking piece by a woman named Margaret of Austria, who was the regent of the Netherlands in the 1400’s, who wrote lots of poetry, but for musicologists, apparently only one piece of music. I’m convinced we just haven’t found the rest. The piece of music is called “Se je souspire,” and it’s a lament. She had just lost her husband that year, and then her brother died also, in battle, and it’s a lament for both of them, and it’s very, very sad, it just breaks your heart. It’s really beautiful, it’s very strange. It has a lot of very odd – do you know what musica ficta is?
A: Yes.
Q: Yes, very strange musica ficta. But it’s gorgeous. So that’s the second half of the program. French and Italian women. And we’re contrasting, which is why we had this fabulous workshop with Sally Sanford, contrasting the two styles. We’re also going to have two instrumental pieces, I hope I hope, one harpsichord piece by Jacquet de la Guerre, and one a sonata for violin and basso continuo by Isabella Leonarda, who you know. So that’s the program. And it’s May 1, Friday, May 1 at Gordon Chapel.
Q: I’ll dig out the information and post it.
A: You’ll dig it out. OK.
Q: At the top of every blog post.
A: Right, right. Plug, plug, plug, plug. Always plug.
Q: So what other musical stuff are you doing at the moment?
A: Well, I’m the director also of Coro Stella Maris up in Rockport, near Gloucester. We rehearse in Salem. And it’s an early music a cappella group.
A: SATB. I have some very nice singers in there. This particular semester we’re doing some really neat, very early music by – we’re doing something called a Missa Caput which was attributed to Guillaume Dufay, but has since been discovered to be an English mass by Anonymous, because nobody knows who wrote it. We’re doing some very modern pieces by Patricia Van Ness and by Abbie Betinis, and by Hilary Tann. And Arvo Pärt. That’s one of our favorite composers. And we’re doing some organum from the 13th century. So that’s going to be in late May and June. And then I also direct a church choir up in Marblehead. And that’s a lot of fun. That’s also SATB, mostly, usually. And we have about twelve singers…most of them show up all the time.
Q: And did you found Coro Stella Maris?
A: No, they hired me. I’ve been with them almost five years also. They hired me. So did St. Andrew’s. St. Andrew’s was my first real SATB experience, conducting grown-ups in a church choir atmosphere. Which was great. I took the job knowing that it paid absolute peanuts, but the best part about it was that there was an organist there. And I didn’t have to worry about my piano skills. Right? Yes. It’s hard to get a job as a choir director when you don’t play the organ, as you know. So it’s been good. They’re a wonderful bunch of people, I love them.

[to be continued!]

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