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Noone's CD Set Earns Award

Prof. Michael Noone (Music) won a Gramophone Award for his "Victoria Sacred Works" CD set of works by Tomás Luis de Victoria. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Oct. 18, 2012

“Victoria Sacred Works” Music Department Professor and Chair Michael Noone's acclaimed CD-set of the sacred works of priest-composer Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), won a coveted 2012 Gramophone Award in the “Early Music” category.

Regarded as the Oscars for classical music, the awards — given annually by the British classical music magazine Gramophone — are the most significant honors of the industry, and represent depth and breadth in terms of artists and repertoire.

“While winning the Gramophone Award is undeniably gratifying, it’s the experiences — and indeed adventures — of the concerts and recording sessions that will remain engraved in my memory long after the triumphant glow has evaporated,” Noone said. “Travelling throughout Spain, at times with up to 30 musicians, was exhilarating, astounding and exhausting.  

“We sang music by Victoria before the enormous marble tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, we sang Vespers for the nuns of Madrid’s royal Descalzas convent founded by Juana of Austria, and we sang Victoria’s majestic Requiem in Madrid’s National Auditorium.”

Noone’s 10-disc set of 90 pieces of the sacred music of Victoria, regarded as the greatest Spanish composer of all time and one of the premier High Renaissance/early Baroque composers of any nationality, was recorded by his London-based Ensemble Plus Ultra and released to coincide with and commemorate the 400th anniversary of Victoria’s death.

While it is not a complete survey of his work, it is the most considerable proportion of Victoria’s output to be released together on disc.

The project brought together musicians from several countries. In 2008 and 2009, Noone’s team spent more than 60 days in Spanish and English churches, renowned for their acoustics, recording in excess of 12 hours of music.

The Ensemble Plus Ultra, according to Gramophone’s review, “embrace the performances of all these pieces with an enthusiastic sense of anything being possible. Ultimately, though, it is just deeply human and emotional music that they perform not only with great tenderness but so simply that one is struck every time – as if for the first time – by its crystalline, uncomplicated beauty.

“At the end of the day,” said Noone — who now has  
more than 350 individual tracks available on iTunes and 40 separate music videos on YouTube and Vimeo — “what really pleases me is that, at a time when record companies talk about a crisis in their industry, it is still economically viable for them to produce 10-CD boxed sets of the works of a composer who only wrote Latin liturgical music. It says a great deal about the durability, and even the marketability, of what is essentially Catholic culture.”

The American release of the CD collection was marked at BC last fall by concerts and a reception.