On 16 November 2019, MK Chorale conducted by Mark Jordan presented a programme of hidden gems and more well known pieces from 16th century Italy including music by two female composers of the period: Isabella Leonarda and Barbara Strozzi who were both very important composers in their time.
The music was interspersed with historical and dramatic readings given by Members of The Play’s the Thing Theatre company (Carly Halse, Caroline Mann, aka Rosemary Hill, Mark Niel).
Four members of Adderbury Ensemble (Chris Windass, Richard Smith, Lisa Cochran, Nick Roberts) provided the string accompaniment to the singer along with Alex Aitken playing a small chamber organ which was brought to the church for the concert as using the Willis pipe organ at the other end of the church would have made the layout of the concert more complex to manage.
Monteverdi: Cantato Domino
Reading: Isabella Leonarda, the music of Novara Isabella Leonarda: Magnificat
Reading: Barbara Strozzi, la virtuosissima cantatrice Barbara Strozzi: Silentio Nocivo
Reading: Woman, Far from her lover, and pregnant (preceded by a history of the poet, Margarita Costa)
Monteverdi: Beatus Vir
Reading: Letter on the Birth of Women (preceded by a history of the author of the letter, Isabella Andreini)
Corelli: Trio Sonata Op. 3 No. 5
Reading: The Ospedali of Venice (an account by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, preceded by a history of the Ospedali and its musical education for young girls), also a short history of Vivaldi’s association with the Ospedali
There was no interval and at the end when more wine was served, a series of 16 paintings of the era were projected onto the big screen hanging from the gallery.
More photos can be seen in the MK Chorale Hidden Italy 2019 album on Flickr.
Words and photos by Anna Page