Concert of the Yale Schola Cantorum

Event time: 
Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 1:00pm
Event description: 

Montiverdi’s Vespers

Masaaki Suzuki, conductor


Woolsey Hall

500 College Street, New Haven

Preconcert talk at 4pm in the Presidents Room

Jeffrey Kurtzman: Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata vergine: What Is It and Why Did He Compose It?


Performed again October 31st, 8pm at

Park Avenue Christian Church

1010 Park Avenue at 85th Street, New York City

Free tickets at

Masaaki Suzuki, the renowned conductor of Bach Collegium Japan and Yale Schola Cantorum, will return to conduct the Schola Cantorum in performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers (1610) in New Haven and New York.

Since founding Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of Bach. He has remained the group’s music director ever since, taking it regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the USA. He is regularly invited to work together with renowned European soloists and groups, such as Collegium Vocale Gent and the Freiburger Barockorchester, with whom he visited several European capitals, and he recently appeared in London with the Britten Sinfonia in a program of Britten, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Forthcoming engagements with other ensembles include the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Nagoya Philharmonic and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestras.

Suzuki’s impressive discography on the BIS label, featuring Bach’s complete works for harpsichord, and his interpretations of Bach’s major choral works and sacred cantatas with Bach Collegium Japan (of which he has already completed over forty volumes of a project to record the complete series) have brought him many critical plaudits - the Times has written: “it would take an iron bar not to be moved by his crispness, sobriety and spiritual vigour.”

Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata vergine (1610), comparable to Orfeo in many ways –  even to the extent of sharing its overture –  is one the most glorious works in the entire repertoire of sacred music for soloists, choir, and instrumental ensemble. When he published these Vespers in Venice, along with a six-part mass for voices and instruments, Monteverdi was seeking a new employer. He was known as the most prolific composer of secular music in all Italy, one who went beyond the conventions of his time, constantly exploring novel ideas, but he had not written any sacred music in nearly 30 years. The publication of 1610, a real tour-de-force, immediately established his mastery in the sacred genre.  It seems as if he poured everything into the Vespers, composing psalms, vocal and instrumental concertos, and decidedly secular songs with sacred texts in a vast range of styles, while binding everything together by building each movement around traditional plainchant.

The work will be performed in New Haven on Saturday, October 30 at 5 PM in Woolsey Hall (corner College and Grove), and in New York City at Park Avenue Christian Church on Sunday, October 31 at 8 PM. Maestro Suzuki will conduct the Yale Schola Cantorum and members of the Yale Baroque Ensemble (Robert Mealy, concertmaster). Vocal soloists are students in the vocal program in early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble led by James Taylor. There will be a preconcert talk by Jeffrey Kurtzman at 4 pm before the New Haven performance. More information is at 203/432-5062.

Both performances are free and open to the public. No tickets are required for the New Haven performance at Woolsey Hall. There are free tickets for the New York performance available online