The Sid Williams Theatre Society will present a performance by Cappella Artemisia on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
This 10-member ensemble, from Bologna, Italy, consists of six vocalists, two cornetti (early wind instrument) and continuo (harpsichord and gamba) performing works from the 16th and 17th centuries.
For the most ardent early music admirer, experiencing the incredible sound of the 10-member ensemble Cappella Artemisia live may be a no-brainer. But for those unsure what to expect from a performance of this style, Times-Colonist contributor Kevin Bazzana encourages you to check it out.
In an Oct. 25 article, he wrote, “Among the best concerts I heard last season was the one that sounded the dustiest and most esoteric on paper … the music, beautifully performed, proved to be unexpectedly rich and moving, and was all the more pleasurable for being unfamiliar.”
Bazzana continued, “However obscure, this music, far from being dry, turns out to be gorgeous, judging from Cappella Artemisia’s recording of works by Cozzolani — one of seven CDs it has released, all devoted to this highly specialized repertoire.”
The musicians of Cappella Artemisia are all established performers in the field of early music and actively collaborate with other ensembles. They present an intriguing program of recently unearthed vocal and instrumental music of the 16th and 17th centuries, much of it written behind convent walls where both composition and performance were officially forbidden.
Convent life represented virtually the only honourable choice for women outside of marriage, and many young Italian girls inhabited the monasteries. Music was practised there every day for it literally represented their voice in the outside world, and its excellent quality drew hoards of listeners from throughout Europe.
“It was an early example of the women’s movement, expressed through the power of music,” said Candace Smith, Cappella Artemisia founder-director.
“And of course, it also reveals these extraordinarily beautiful works, often written in secret, and in many cases now being heard for the first time since they were first created.”
Smith joins the ensemble on their Western Canada tour as a featured guest, along with her husband and world-celebrated cornetto virtuoso Bruce Dickey.
Smith (originally from California but living in Europe since 1975) is a mezzo-soprano and has been involved for many years with historical music written by women, in addition to her interests in contemporary music, musical theatre, and cabaret. Dickey is a founding member of Concerto Palatino and well-known throughout the world of early music for his pioneering work on the instrument.
Founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1991, this is “early music” with a difference. They present a feast of glorious and rarely heard music. With an informative and illuminating commentary, they also open a social and historical window onto the women’s movement of an earlier era.
Since its inception the ensemble has received critical and popular praise, both for the rarity and originality of its repertoire, and for the high quality of its performances.
Cappella Artemisia has appeared at such prestigious venues as the Festival of Flanders, The Holland Festival of Early Music, Il Festival Monteverdiano di Cremona, the Osterfestival in Innsbruck, the WDR Festival der Alten Musik in Herne, the Tage Alter Musik in Regensburg, and I Concerti al Quirinale (Rome). They have been broadcast by national radio networks in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA.
Now for the first time, they undertake a major Canadian tour.
Cappella Artemisia takes its name from the painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, a striking female figure in the 17th-century Italian art world whose accomplishments — like the convent inspired music that paralleled her life — are only now beginning to be recognized.
Don’t miss Cappella Artemisia on stage at the Sid Williams Theatre on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Courtenay. Tickets can be purchased at the Sid ticket centre, by phone 250-338-2430 or online at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com.
— Sid Williams Theatre