Missa Lutherana: The Beginnings of Lutheran Church Music
Pre-concert talk by Jennifer Bloxam at 6pm in Christ Church Parish Lounge
The concert is followed by the service of Compline, sung by the Christ Church Choir, at 9 PM
In 2017 the world celebrates the 500th anniversary of the symbolic start of the Reformation, when Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg. Cappella Pratensis marks this year with a program devoted to the very first music of the Protestant movement. The ensemble will present a Christmas Mass as it might have been heard in the very early years of the Protestant movement. The program will show that Luther retained much more of the liturgical and musical tradition than is normally assumed.
Central to this program are the composers Heinrich Isaac and Josquin Desprez, two composers who might normally be seen as representing the “old” polyphonic style that Luther “rejected”. The clarity of their music, however, clearly appealed to Luther as he sought to create a new aesthetic for his movement. Luther in fact called Josquin his favourite composer! The program also includes work by Johan Walter, one of the first composers to set Luther’s own texts. As specialists in the polyphony of the early sixteenth-century, Cappella Pratensis is uniquely placed to trace the musical origins of the Lutheran movement.
The Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis – literally ‘Cappella des prés’ – champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programs and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight. As in Josquin’s time, the members of Cappella Pratensis perform from a central music stand, singing from the original mensural notation scored in a large choirbook. This approach, together with attention to the linguistic origin of the compositions and the modal system on which it is based, offers a unique perspective on the repertoire. Founded in 1987, Cappella Pratensis is currently under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull.