November 4, 1997

The Orlando Consort Brings "The Birth of the Renaissance" to Middlebury College's Center for the Arts

Praises for the Orlando Consort:

"The balance of intellect and musicianship is just about perfect, and fits the repertory like a glove." -- Gramophone Magazine

"Perfection was reached by the Orlando Consort. The intonation was impeccable, the tone was rich and refined, and the timing faultless. The concert was pure food for the gods and the whole audience was breathless." -- N.R.C. Handelsblad, Holland

The Orlando Consort, founded in 1988 by the Early Music Centre of Great Britain, will present "The Birth of the Renaissance," on Saturday, November 15, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Center for the Arts at Middlebury College. A pre-concert talk will be given by John Milsom, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Music, at 7:00 p.m. in the Concert Hall.

The Orlando Consort has rapidly achieved a reputation as one of the most expert and consistently challenging groups performing a 500 year-old repertoire. The four musicians-a baritone, two tenors and a countertenor-will give the Middlebury audience a tour of some of the great musical masterpieces of the 15th Century, a period of time at the fulcrum of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance when patronage of the arts became increasingly more important to the strengthening courts of Europe. "The

Birth of the Renaissance" is Orlando Consort's mixture of the astonishingly beautiful music of artists emerging from an era of anonymously composed pieces, to a time where individuals gained fame through the courts' rivalry for patronage.

"The Birth of the Renaissance" will include the Ave Maria coelorum of Guillaume Dufay, a singer in the papal choir who became one of the most famous and sought-after composers of the mid-1400s; De plus en plus, composed by Gilles Binchois whose economic harmonies and clearly defined structure was blended with an unforgettable grace that stamped the Burgundian court style on music all over Western Europe; and Vultum tuum deprecabantur, a collection of seven short motets by Josquin des Prés, the unchallenged pre-eminent French composer at the end of the century, and one of the greatest single influences on composers throughout the upcoming 16th Century.

The Orlando Consort have appeared in sell-out concerts at the prestigious Utrecht Early Music Festival in Holland; the London Early Music Festival; and other festivals in Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy and Austria. During the 1996-97 season, they performed in two of London's most notable venues, Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room; and in 1997 made their North American debut with headline concerts at the Boston Early Music Festival. The Consort have made a number of recordings, and won the 1996 Gramophone Magazine Award for Best Early Music for their album, "The Music of John Dunstable." They are also recipients of the American Musicological Society's Noah Greenberg Award. The American Record Guide praises the Consort, saying "Such a generous and varied sampling, most previously unrecorded, performed by sensitive singers who are both artistic interpreters and sensitive assimilators of the latest musicology, clearly recorded, with full texts and musical translations - all this adds up to a major contribution to the medieval discography, as well as a fascinating listening experience."

Professor Milsom's pre-concert talk will focus on Johannes Ockeghem, courtier and diplomat, singer and composer. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Ockeghem's death, and the Orlando Consort will perform several of his pieces during the concert following the talk, including his intimate and heartfelt composition of Ave Maria.

To order tickets, call the Middlebury College Center for the Arts Box Office at 802-443-6433. General admission is $9; admission for Middlebury College faculty, staff and seniors is $7; and $4 for Midd students. Sponsored by the Middlebury College Concert Series.