Tuesday 25 October
17:30 Trinitatis Church
Ars Nova Copenhagen
Paul Hillier, conductor
Sunt lacrimae rerum
The concert title is a famous phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid. In Carthage Aeneas visits a temple to Juno and gazes on a mural which depicts key figures from the Trojan war—the war that has driven him to this alien shore as a refugee. He perceives how mortal things touch the spirit, and that ‘there are tears at the heart of things.’ And it is here that he first dares to hope for safety and to have more confidence in his wrecked fortunes.
The music sung in the first part of the concert includes three laments: King David mourning the death of his son Absolon in battle; Dufay’s lament for the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453; and Rachel’s lament for her dead child, one of many killed by Herod’s men in the slaughter of the innocents. These are set between two Marian motets by the Franco-Flemish composer Jean Mouton, which express the precious beauty and hope engendered by the birth of a child.
These references to strife between people of different religions and the plight of the refugee are placed here deliberately to echo some of the themes that occur in Line Tjørnhøj’s extended ‘report’ on the state of civilisation at the beginning of our new millennium.
The composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, with whom Ars Nova enjoyed a particularly close association, died earlier this summer. To commemorate Pelle and pay tribute to his marvellous music, the group conclude their own part of the concert with one of the finest pieces he wrote: Three Stages. This is a work in three sections which began life as a musical tapestry of Copenhagen street cries (quoting Berio’s Cries of London in passing,) but then interweaves a sonnet by Shakespeare, Janequin’s Chant des Oiseaux, and various other local references as well.
At the end of the concert Ars nova Copenhagen will be joined by DR Vokalensemblet and Helsinki Chamber Choir. They will together perform Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis a piece for 40 voices. It naturally isn’t everyday that you have a chance to hear this impressive work.
Music from medieval France
Jean Mouton (1459-1522): Ave Maria Virgo Serena
Anon. 14th century: Doleo super te – Absolon, fili mi
Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474): Lamentatio Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae
Anon. from the Fleury Play book: Rachel plorans
Jean Mouton: Nesciens Mater
Line Tjørnhøj (*1960): Art Vox Reportage – on civilisation 2.0 (2014)
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (1932-2016): Three Stages
Tomas Tallis (1505-1585): Spem in alium