Viennese Vespers by Heinrich Biber

Event time: 
Monday, December 6, 2004 - 3:00pm
Event description: 


Concert of Yale Schola Cantorum

December 6 and 7, 2004, at 8pm

Free and open to the public.
Dec 6 | St. Mary’s Church, Hillhouse Ave, New Haven
Dec 7 | St. Michael’s Church, 225 W. 99th St., New York

Information at 203.432.5062

Yale Schola Cantorum premieres complete 1693 Viennese Vespers by Heinrich Biber


Yale Schola Cantorum, the University’s new specialist chamber choir directed by Simon Carrington, will give the North American premiere of Heinrich Biber’s Vesperae longiores ac breviores. The soloists will be from Yale’s recently established graduate voice program in early music, and the Yale Collegium Players will be directed by the well-known baroque violinist Robert Mealy. There will be two performances of the work, the first in New Haven on Monday, December 6 at 8 pm at St. Mary’s Church, Hillhouse Ave. It will be repeated on Tuesday, December 7 at 8 pm in New York at St. Michael’s Church, 225 W. 99th St.

To mark the 300th anniversary of Biber’s death, the Vespers will be placed in the context of a reconstruction of a service, which will include some additional music from other contemporary sources: Rupert Ignaz Mayr, Leopold I (the Habsburg emperor and a prolific composer acquainted with Biber’s playing), and Giovanni Legrenzi (a Venetian composer whose music was frequently performed in Vienna, and who was acquainted with Leopold).

In his day, Heinrich Biber was one of the most famous violinists in the world. His pedigree was second to none, and his reputation and abilities as a performer are confirmed by the complex and highly ornate solo violin music which he published during his lifetime. At least half his instrumental music is intended for use in church, and by far the greater proportion of his vocal music is also religious. There are several masses, ranging from four voices to one (the Missa Salisburgensis) which is for over 50 performers (including ten trumpets), various small-scale motets, and a published set of psalms for the service of Vespers.

Biber’s printed set of 1693 includes a collection of long settings of standard texts (each service having a very strict order), short settings, settings for Marian Vespers (for the feasts throughout the year celebrating the life of the Virgin Mary), and psalms for the rest of the year. This concert is the first North American performance of music from Biber’s 1693 set, and the first known concert anywhere in the world to place them in the context of a reconstruction of a service.

The Yale Schola Cantorum, now in its second year, is a 24 voice chamber choir specializing in music from before 1750 and from the last 100 years. Simon Carrington is the group’s founder and conductor; it is supported by the Institute of Sacred Music with the Yale School of Music. In addition to performing regularly in New Haven and elsewhere, the choir records and tours nationally and internationally. During its first year, Schola Cantorum’s repertoire included works by Josquin des Pres, Orlando di Lasso, Schütz, Monteverdi, Bach, Charpentier, Stravinsky, Einojuhani Rautavaara, James MacMillan, and Yale faculty composer Ezra Laderman. Upcoming concerts in New Haven include Choral Masterworks with Sir David Willcocks on Sunday, February 27; Musical Book of Hours as guests of the Yale Collegium Musicum on Tuesday, April 19; and Ecstatic Meditations (music of Pierre de Manchicourt and Aaron Jay Kernis) on Wednesday, April 27. In May, 2005 the choir will tour southern England, performing in many of the most glorious medieval and renaissance cathedrals and abbeys in the area.

Both concerts, presented by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, are free and open to the public.