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Blue Heron Renaissance Choir Joins Boston College as Artists-in-Residence, Performs Public Concert October 14 at 8 p.m.

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (10-12-10) -- Boston's premier professional early music vocal ensemble, the Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, has joined Boston College as artists-in-residence this academic year. The internationally-acclaimed group will present a fall concert on campus October 14 at 8 p.m.

“Blue Heron is much more than a mere choir,” according to Boston College Music Department Professor and Department Chair Michael Noone, who describes the group as “a highly flexible performing organization which draws from a roster of musicians in order to constitute the ensemble best suited to the repertoire at hand.”

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Blue Heron Renaissance Choir. Photo credit: Liz Linder.


Under the leadership of founder and director Scott Metcalfe, the choir (www.blueheronchoir.org) combines a commitment to vivid live performance with the study of original source materials and historical performance practice.

An initiative of the University’s Institute for Liberal Arts, the residency program brings a professional ensemble to campus, providing students the opportunity to work closely with musicians in the preparation and presentation of their performances.

Said Metcalfe: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with BC students and faculty as we prepare two programs this season—both this month's concert, featuring a North American premiere of a work written in the first half of the 16th century, and the concert in March of Victoria's six-voice Requiem, in a program commemorating the composer's death in 1611.   

“It is especially good to make numerous visits to the campus and work with students, in both classroom and rehearsal settings, over the course of several weeks leading up to a concert, he added, noting that the group welcomed the chance for “a closer and more sustained collaboration” with Noone, “a world-renowned expert in 16th-century Spanish music.”

For their fall concert, Blue Heron will present “Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks,” a collection of precious musical manuscripts that “somehow survived Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monastaries,” Noone noted, and “stand as a testament to the incredibly rich music traditions of pre-Reformation Catholic England.” Because essential parts of the manuscripts are missing, musicologists have “ingeniously reconstructed the original music,” so “these superb masterpieces of the English Renaissance can be heard today with the freshness that greeted their first performances in the Cathedrals of Renaissance England.”

Metcalfe said the concert is “the latest installment in the ensemble's series of programs drawing on music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, which were copied c. 1540 for Canterbury Cathedral, and features the North American premiere of a radiant mass by Nicholas Ludford (c. 1490-1557), presented in a program reflecting the work's possible original context, a festal mass in honor of the patron saint of St Margaret's, Westminster, Ludford's parish church. The program includes plainchant from England's Sarum rite for a mass on St Margaret's feast day of July 20, and concludes with a dramatic antiphon by Hugh Aston (c. 1485-1558), recorded on Blue Heron's recent CD.”

The ensemble’s BC affiliation, “our first large-scale residency,” at a university, Metcalfe said, will include coaching BC’s Madrigal Singers.

Madrigal Singers’ co-director Kayleigh Dudevoir, a BC senior majoring in linguistics and music, said “The chance to work with such a brilliant group of singers is not only useful to the directors, but inspiring for our newest members.  I am very excited to see how the Madrigal Singers will benefit from Dr. Metcalfe's guidance, both as individual singers and as a group.”

Blue Heron vocalists who will perform at BC under Metcalfe’s direction are: Noël Bisson, Jane Sheldon, Teresa Wakim, Martin Near, Pamela Dellal, Allen Combs, Jason McStoots, Mark Sprinkle, Sumner Thompson, Glenn Billingsley, Paul Guttry and Ulysses Thomas.

Their October 14 performance, at 8 p.m. in St. Mary’s Chapel, located on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus at 140 Commonwealth Avenue, is free and open to the public.  For more information call (617)-552-6004 or email concerts@bc.edu.

Fall events on campus related to the Blue Heron residency, Noone noted, are part of a week of activities that focus on the Renaissance. They include the Annual Josephine Von Henneberg Lecture in Italian Art  (also free and open to the public), which precedes the concert on October 14 at 5 p.m. in Devlin Hall room 101. (Information: BC Fine Arts Department: 617-552-4295.)

An interdisciplinary conference, “The Pamphilj and the Arts: Patronage and Consumption in Baroque Rome,” follows on October 15 and 16. It is free and open to the public (registration required) and will be held on BC’s Brighton Campus. More information on the conference, organized by Associate Professor of Fine Arts Stephanie Leone and sponsored by BC’s Institute for Liberal Arts, McMullen Museum of Art, Fine Arts Department, Jesuit Institute and The Samuel H. Kress Foundation, visit the conference website.

--Rosanne Pellegrini, Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs, rosanne.pellegrini@bc.edu