The voices of University Chorale members will join with those of the internationally noted Ensemble Plus Ultra (EPU) – dubbed “a crack squad of the finest British early music singers” by Early Music Today.
Co-founded in 2001 by Boston College Music Department Chair and Professor Michael Noone, the award-winning London-based group will be guest artists on campus during their current U.S. tour.
This Saturday, the ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. in Trinity Chapel on Newton Campus, conducted by University Chorale director John Finney. The program is a collaboration with the Chorale’s Chamber Singers, a 22-voice ensemble of members of the larger group.
On Sunday at 3 p.m. in St Mary’s Chapel, EPU will present a program of Renaissance a cappella music, with an emphasis on Latin settings of the biblical Song of Songs, in recognition of Valentine’s Day, according to Noone.
EPU’s BC events—all free and open to the public, and their exclusive Boston-area appearances—include performing as well as collaborating with, and coaching, BC students.
“There’s nothing more exhilarating for our students than intense periods working side-by-side with experienced arts professionals in a collaborative performance that combines creativity, imagination, and hard work,” said Noone. “And of course, there’s the terrific satisfaction of performing before their peers on campus.
“One of the important features of this concert is that it is part of an artist-in-residence program in which the musicians of EPU will work closely with BC students, John Finney, and members of the University Chorale,” Noone said.
“I am delighted that the Chamber Singers of the University Chorale of Boston College have the opportunity to collaborate with the superb singers of Ensemble Plus Ultra,” said Finney. “I anticipate that our Chamber Singers will find this experience to be both thrilling and inspiring, and I know that our audience will be enthralled with the beautiful voices of our students, alongside the exquisite singing of Ensemble Plus Ultra.”
The performance, which will feature as its main work Carissimi’s oratorio “Jephte,” will include full-ensemble singing by the Chamber Singers as well as solos by EPU members and some BC students, Finney said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to collaborate with a Grammy Award winning group,” said Chamber Singer and concert soloist Hannah Bowlin ’17. “We are so honored to work with Ensemble Plus Ultra – not only to listen to them sing, but to learn from them as our musical peers.”
The student soloists will have individual coaching sessions with EPU members during a Feb. 12 workshop, in which all 164 members of the University Chorale are invited to participate.
EPU’s campus visit culminates in their presentation of behind-the-scenes insight into the recording – under Noone’s direction – of their new CD which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the death of Toledo’s greatest artist, El Greco. That event, “From Spain to Eternity: Vocal Music from El Greco’s Toledo,” which incorporates concert and commentary will be this Monday at 8 p.m. in Gasson 100.
Noone said the CD project originated in 2014, when the group was invited to perform in Spain’s Toledo cathedral for a Pontifical Requiem Mass to commemorate the death of El Greco. “We chose to perform a Requiem composed by 16th-century Toledan composer Morales, one of the few copies of which is held among the Burns Library collection of rare music. This led to the CD, ‘From Spain to Eternity.’”
The EPU’s first visit to BC in 2013 was a great success, he added, and “has led to the group’s intense involvement in a digital humanities project focusing on the rare music holdings of the Burns library.
“The members of the Ensemble, all top-rank professional vocalists, are especially eager to share their experiences with BC students,” Noone said. “After all, this was the music that resounded through the Spain in which St Ignatius lived. In a real sense it represents the sound track of Ignatius’s Spain.”
For information on EPU campus events, call the Music Department at ext.2-6004.
Rosanne Pellegrini | News & Public Affairs