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Michael Taylor, countertenor; Les Voix Humaines; Susie Napper, viol; Margaret Little, viol; Mélisande Corriveau, viols & recorders; The Queen’s Delight – Les Voix Humaines Gamba Consort, recorders, renaissance flute & percussion; Nigel North, lutes; Sylvain Bergeron, lutes
Pre-concert chat at 6:45 PM with Susie Napper, Nigel North, and Matthew White
A musical drama written by the brilliant, eccentric fop, gamba player, composer, mercenary soldier, and model for Shakespeare’s Sir Andrew Aiguecheak in Twelfth night, the inimitable Tobias Hume!
The Queen’s Delight
Music by Tobias Hume (1580-1645)
A French Almaine (The Duke of Lenox delight)
The Earle of Mountgomeries delight (The Lady Susies favoret)
An Almayne (The Lady Canes delight)
Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens (Nigel)
Cease leaden slumber (The Queenes New-yeares gift)
Musickes Delight (The Earle of Southamptons favoret)
My joyes are comming (The Lady of Bedfords delight)
My hope is revived (The Lady of Suffolkes delight)
My joyes are comming (The Lady of Bedfords delight)
The Hunting Song
The Pashion of Musicke (Sir Christopher Hattons choice)
What greater griefe
The virgins muse (The Lady Arbellaes favoret)
The King of Denmarkes health (The Lady Margarets delight)
A Masque (The Earle of Sussex delight)
A Spanish humor (The Lord Hayes favoret)
The Souldiers Song
A Souldiers March
CAPTAIN TOBIAS HUME, SIR ANDREW AIGUECHEEK or a FOP?
I Doe not studie Eloquence, or profess Musicke, although I doe love Sence, and affect Harmony: my Profession being, as my Education hath beene, Armes, the onely effeminate part of me, hath beene Musicke; which in mee hath beene always Generous, because never Mercenarie. To prayse Musicke, were to say, the Sunne is bright.
Tobias Hume is one of the most colourful characters in the musical lexicon! Born in the 1580s, brilliant viol player and composer, Tobias Hume was a mercenary soldier by trade. He was a sometime officer in the King of Sweden’s army and otherwise leader of the troops of the Russian Emperor in various religious and political conflicts. In old age, he even offered his military services to Parliament promising to crush the raging Irish Rebellion, in his True Petition of Colonel Hume, with a hundred “instruments of war” or, if provided with the complete navy, to bring the king a fortune within three months!
Even in his musical life “which in mee hath beene alwayes Generous, because never Mercenarie”, Hume was in a philosophical battle with John Dowland who felt compelled to write a rebuttal in defence of the lute over the ever-more-fashionable viol.
Hume’s two volumes, The First Part of Ayres (or Musicall Humors, 1605) and Captain Humes Poeticall Musicke (1607), include: “Ayres, French, Pollish, and others together, some in Tablature (like lute notation) and some in Pricke-Song (classic notation)…With Pavines, Galliards, and Almaines for the Viole De Gambo alone, and other Musicall Conceites for two Base Viols, expressing five partes, with pleasant reportes one from the other and for two Leero Viols, and also for the Leero Viole with two Treble Viols or two with one Treble. Lastly for the Leero Viole to play alone, and some Songes to be sung to the Viole, with the Lute, or better with the Viole alone Also an Invention for two to play upon one Viole.”
Eccentricities and exceptional creativity abound in these volumes including what is perhaps the first ever mention of the use of col legno or “drum this with the backe of your bow”! The pieces span the panoply of emotions from the most tender, touching music ever written for the viol to fabulously funny musical humours in which word-painting flourishes! Hume’s compositions were to be the catalyst that determined the predominance of the viol over the lute in England.
It is quite possible that Tobias Hume was the model for Shakespeare’s character, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night. Sir Andrew, a fashionable, feeble fop, played the “viol de Gambo”, “spoke three or four Languages word for word without book”, sang the wildest canons, drank heavily, swore like a sailor, and dressed to kill! How accurate a portrait of Hume this is we’ll never know!
Even having moved, in old age, to the Charterhouse, Westminster, an establishment to provide shelter for distressed gentlemen “such as had been servants to the King’s Majestie or could bring good testimony of their good behaviour and soundness in religion.” Hume found life hard. He complained to Parliament: “I do humbly intreat to know why your Lordships do slight me, as if I were a fool or an Ass…I have pawned all my best clothes, and have now no good garment to wear…I have not one penny to help me at this time to buy me bread, so that I am like to be starved for want of meat and drink, and did walk into the fields lately to gather Snails in the netles, and brought a bag of them
home to eat, and do now feed on them for want of other meat, to the great shame of this land and those that do not help me… .”
Hume died three years later on April 16th 1645, in the poor house. Fortune was unkind to our hero both personally and musically, but Time has blessed him with worldwide admiration for his musical creativity and sensitivity!
Michael Taylor, countertenor
Acclaimed by critics for his “great virtuosity”, “vocal radiance” and “outstanding voice”, Canadian countertenor Michael Taylor has performed leading roles in operas ranging from the baroque to the modern era, including Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Portugal, Rinaldo in Pallavicino’s La Gerusalemme Liberata in Germany and Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummernight’s Dream in England. Also highly sought-after in concert and oratorio, he recently sang his Lincoln Center debut in New York as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Grammy-Nominated Trinity Choir and performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Berlin Baroque at the Berliner Philharmonie.
Michael began singing as a treble at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, where he also studied the violin and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music. After graduating with a degree in Physics and Neuroscience from McGill University, he took up further vocal studies with a focus on early music. In Montreal, Michael launched his professional career as a countertenor, singing with the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal and as a soloist under the direction of numerous internationally acclaimed artists. Michael subsequently came to Germany to pursue a specialization in opera performance with Jeanne Piland at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein; he has worked with some of the most eminent talents on the early music scene in Europe, including Andreas Scholl, Sara Mingardo and Michael Hofstetter.
Michael is a prize-winner of the Sedat Gürel & Güzin Gürel International Singing Competition in Istanbul and the International Voice Competition Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg in Germany, and was awarded a grant from the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers. As founder and co-director of the baroque ensemble “The Dansant”, Michael has just released “To Die, To Sleep”, a solo album of opera arias by Handel, Vivaldi and Graun accompanied by period instruments; the album is available via online music stores worldwide.
Les Voix Humaines
Recipients of numerous prizes, Susie Napper and Margaret Little, have thrilled audiences worldwide with dashing performances of early and contemporary music for viols since 1985. Their musical complicity has been compared to the skill of two trapeze artists or the telepathic communion of a pair of jazz saxophonists! They are renowned for their spectacular arrangements of a wide variety of music for two viols and have become a world reference for the music of Sainte-Colombe. Les Voix humaines has toured Canada, USA and Mexico, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, China and Japan, has recorded most of the repertoire for two equal viols and has worked with renowned musicians such as Bart and Wieland Kuijken, Charles Daniels, Eric Milnes, Skip Sempe, David Greenberg and Nigel North.
With colleagues Mélisande Corriveau and Felix Deak, Les Voix humaines Consort has been touring Europe and North America for the past several years. In 2017 the VH Consort toured in Mexico and its next venture is a Scandinavian and Eastern European tour in November.
Les Voix humaines has recorded over forty CDs to critical acclaim and has won prestigious awards (Diapason d’Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Repertoire-Classica 10, Goldberg 5, Classics Today 10/10, Prix Opus, etc). LVH Consort recordings include Purcell’s complete Fantasias, Bach’s Art of Fugue, Les Voix humaines’ own arrangement of Vivaldi’s Quatro Staggione, “4 Seasons, 4 Viols”, and Dowland’s Lachrimae.
Susie Napper, viol
Cellist, gambist, continuo player par excellence, Susie Napper is known for her colorful, even controversial performances of both solo and chamber repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries. Having spent her childhood in an artistic milieu in London, in her late teens she moved to New York to study at the Juilliard School, then to the Paris Conservatoire. San Francisco followed, where, after a foray into contemporary music, she co-founded and directed the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Since then, she has spent two decades with a foot on either side of the Atlantic as principal cellist with several groups including Stradivaria in France, the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal and Les Boréades in Montreal, and the Trinity Consort of Portland. Her concert tours have taken her as far afield as China, Japan, New Zealand, India, the Middle East, as well as most European countries.
As a member of the very active viol duo Les Voix humaines, she has discovered a new facet of musical expression in the form of musical arranging, thus providing an endlessly fascinating new repertoire for two viols. Susie Napper teaches at McGill University, and founded the Festival international Montréal Baroque which is presented in Montreal in June since 2001. She was awarded the Prix Opus 2002 for “Personality of the Year” by the Conseil québécois de la musique.
Her recordings, which include most of the known repertoire for two viols, can be heard on Harmonia Mundi, EMI, Erato, ADDA, CBC Records, Naxos, and most notably on the ATMA label. But her true vocation is not on the concert stage or the recording studio. The kitchen is the center of her domain, where she creates dishes both colorful and controversial for her own pleasure as well as that of her guests.
Margaret Little, viol
Margaret Little discovered the viola da gamba at the age of eleven at the CAMMAC Music Centre and instantly fell in love with the instrument and early music repertoire. Margaret has been performing since 1975 as a soloist, and a chamber musician on the viola da gamba and baroque viola with various groups, including the Studio de Musique ancienne de Montréal, Les Idées Heureuses, Arion, Musica Divina. In 1985 she founded the viola da gamba duo Les Voix humaine with Susie Napper. Margaret has performed with many early music groups (as a gambist and baroque violist) including Cappricio Stravagante, Fuocco e Cenere, Rebel, Four Nations, Trinity Consort, The Publick Musick, Les Boréades, Les Violons du Roy. Her career has included extensive tours in North America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Margaret has recorded more than 90 CDs, and her first solo CD Senza Continuo was nominated for an Opus Award. Since 1992, she has taught the viola da gamba and baroque ensembles at the Université de Montréal.
Mélisande Corriveau, viols & recorders
A specialist in early-music performance, multi-instrumentalist Mélisande Corriveau has been praised for her exceptional musical mastery. She is frequently a guest at major festivals in both North America and Europe, and is an active concert, touring, and recording artist. She regularly performs with a number of celebrated ensembles, and is a member of the ensembles Masques (France), Les Voix humaines, Sonate 1704, and Les Boréades de Montréal. As a soloist, she has been featured with Les Violons du Roy, National Art Center Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra,Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and has toured with Jordi Savall and Ensemble Hespèrion XXI. Her discography comprises some 50 titles on various labels. Her discs with harpsichordist Eric Milnes - Pardessus de viole and Marin Marais : Badinages - have won numerous accolades including Opus Prizes for early-music CD of the year and classical disc of the year by ICI Radio- Canada (2016). Mélisande Corriveau and her partner Eric Milnes co-direct the two time Juno award-winning vocal and instrumental ensemble L’Harmonie des saisons, which they founded in 2010. In 2014, Ms. Corriveau completed, with honors, a doctorate in pardessus de viole performance at the Université de Montréal. She is recognized as one of the world’s few specialists on this instrument.
The Queen’s Delight – Les Voix Humaines Gamba Consort, recorders, renaissance flute & percussion
Nigel North, lutes
Born in London, England, Nigel North has been Professor of Lute at the Early Music Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington (USA) since 1999. Previous positions included The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London (1976-1996), Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (1993-1999) and the Royal Conservatory, Den Haag, (2006-2009).
Initially inspired at the age of seven by the early 60’s instrumental pop group “The Shadows”, Nigel studied classical music through the violin and guitar, eventually discovering his real path in life, the lute, when he was 15. Basically self-taught on the lute, he has been playing and teaching for nearly 50 years.
After hearing one of Nigel’s Bach recitals in London, Julian Bream recalled in 2002 “I remember going to a remarkable recital, one which I wish I had the ability to give: it was one of Nigel North’s Bach recitals, and I was bowled over by how masterful and how musical it was. A real musical experience, something you don’t always get from guitar and lute players and which, in general, is pretty rare.” Recordings include a four CD boxed set “Bach on the Lute” (Linn Records), four CDs of the lute music of John Dowland (Naxos), and a new ongoing series of music by Sylvius Weiss (BGS) and Francesco da Milano (BGS).
Sylvain Bergeron, lutes
Considered “a supremely refined, elegant and cerebral musician” (Ottawa Citizen), Sylvain Bergeron is a master of the lute and family of plucked instruments, including the theorbo, archiluth and baroque guitar. He is in great demand on the North American music scene as a soloist and continuist. He is one of the pioneers of early music in Canada and has helped establish the lute as a viable instrument at the highest level of professionalism. His work has confirmed the importance of plucked instruments and helped validate their place in Baroque ensembles and orchestras in Canada.
Sylvain Bergeron has participated in more than 70 recordings, many of which have won prizes and awards. His most recent solo album, Gioseppe Antonio Doni’s Lute Book, published by ATMA Classique in 2015, was widely praised for his “strong lute technique combined with outstanding musical intelligence and impeccable phrasing” (The WholeNote ), while the magazine Goldberg described his game as “imbued with both great rhythmic vitality, delicacy and nuance”.
Co-founder and co-artistic director of La Nef, Mr. Bergeron has directed several award- winning productions of this Montreal ensemble since 1991. He has taught lute at McGill University and the Université de Montréal since 1992.