We performed our second programme in the Chez Schedel project on Thursday 3 December (in King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen) and Saturday, 5 December (in Woodend Barn, Banchory), welcoming Marc Lewon (voice and lute) and Uri Smilansky (viola d’arco), along with Caroline Ritchie (viola d’arco) and Ralph Stelzenmüller (organ/harpsichord). The programme had a bit of a Christmas theme, and some audience participation: some digging in online hymn databases revealed a 19th-century English translation of Der Tag der ist so freudenreich, so we performed alternatim verses in German monophony, Latin polyphony, and instrumental settings, while the audience sang “Royal day that chasest gloom”. Marc’s beautifully-rendered Tenorlieder, especially athmospheric in the candle-lit warmth of Woodend Barn, helped expand the programme’s German content, while we continued to explore the renditions of French, English, and Italian repertoire in German manuscripts. One of my favourites is a Latin contrafact of Mille bonjours from the St-Emmeram Codex.
Saturday, 30 May and Sunday, 31 May (University of Aberdeen May Festival) saw the first performances of the Aberdeen Early Music Collective’s new project Chez Schedel, in which we reconstruct a musical entertainment as it might have been performed in Nuremberg in the 1460s. Many modern performers and audiences are still insidiously influenced by the desire to determine a composer’s intention or authority, even for musics where such a notion may be problematic. We depart from this by collecting pieces from a wide geographical and temporal origin, and trying to crystallise what these pieces might have sounded like, in one place and time. For our first performances, regulars Frauke, Ralph Stelzenmüller (organ) and Caroline Ritchie (viola d’arco) welcomed esteemed guest Uri Smilansky (viola d’arco). The programme included a mix of German songs (performed with texted superius), Latin contrafacta of songs of diverse origin (including some of Frye and Du Fay’s biggest hits), keyboard intabulations, and a few chansons with their original French texts. On Sunday, we added a basse danse, and Uri and Caroline improvised while I taught the basic steps to an enthusiastic little girl from our audience! Stay tuned for the next installment in December, when Marc Lewon will join the lineup, and we will explore some more homegrown, German genres! Wine is no use until you’ve had at least three drinks (claims the Buxheim Organ Book), so find out what happens after drinks four through ten!
The Aberdeen Early Music Collective’s second concert of the “Ruggieri” Project took place on Thursday, 5 February 2015, with guests Karim Nasr (baroque bassoon) and Alex McCartney (baroque guitar and theorbo). Other performers were Amanda Babington, Aden Mazur, Caroline Ritchie, Claire Babington, and Ralph Stelzenmüller. We’ve now performed all of the soprano cantatas, and two of the sonatas! The cantata Taci, non mi parlar (“Shut up! Don’t speak to me!”) proved especially entertaining.
Next in line is the second installment of “Chez Schedel”, our late-medieval project centred around Nuremberg. This follows from a lecture-recital initially given at the Conference for Interdisciplinary Musicology, Glasgow, 2011. Two performances in Aberdeen will be on 30 and 31 May 2015, with more to come in the autumn.