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Harmonia Early Music

Questions for Angela Mariani

Angela Mariani, host of Harmonia, answers questions about life as a professor of music history, running a non-profit organization, and the ensemble Altramar.

angie and flammarion

Photo: Anonymous

Angela Mariani and a detail from Harmonia's iconic image (Flammarion wood engraving, 1888).

Angela Mariani is, among many things, the host of Harmonia. She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas where she keeps a busy and varied professional life.

Many people know you as the host of Harmonia, but you’re also a professor of music history at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. What are some of your responsibilities?

I teach in the Musicology department and direct the TTU Collegium, our early music ensemble. I teach a rotation of different courses: Medieval Music Seminar, Intro to Early Music Performance Practice, various composer courses, and Pedagogy of Music History. I really enjoy the fact that I get to teach in my particular area of specialization – not every professor in a large state university has that luxury these days.

I also teach our Graduate History Survey course, which is designed to help grad students “fill the gaps” in their music history studies and prepare for their exit exams; and I teach the first unit in our undergrad music history series, “Introduction to Research and Style Analysis.” The latter, which is mostly freshmen, was designed by my colleague Chris Smith, who chairs the musicology department here, and is a preparatory class that helps people learn research and analysis skills through the medium of a wide variety of music, from western classical to rock and roll to jazz and world music.

What kinds of music have you explored with the TTU Collegium?

The TTU Collegium is really comprised of several smaller ensembles, and then in some cases we’ll all get together for a big program.

We’ve done everything from medieval Nicholas Plays to an English Masque and an all-Monteverdi concert, so it really runs the gamut, depending on how many people we have in a given year and what their strengths are. For awhile now we’ve had a viol consort and a recorder consort; last year we also had a group singing Hildegard, and then we got the entire group together for a big medieval music concert with Aquitainian polyphony and various other things.

This semester we have the consorts plus a group of students doing a medieval improvisation workshop, and some students working on some presentations for local school kids.

I’ve also just been approached by a group of about a half-dozen excellent singers from the voice department who’ve formed a Renaissance polyphony group on their own and would now like to be under the “umbrella” of Collegium.That’s exciting, because the more people we have, the more possibilities there are for pooling our resources and doing larger programs.

You’re also on the executive board of Caprock Early Music Association in Lubbock. Can you tell us about the organization?

CEMA is a small non-profit organization founded about 5 years ago by myself and early music singer Liz Ronan-Silva. Its mission is to “foster the performance, education, and advocacy of Early Music in Lubbock and West Texas.” We’ve had some great concerts over the past few years and a lot of fruitful collaboration with the School of Music and the Collegium to bring artists in for workshops and master classes as well.

For the past two years we’ve purposely limited our activity while we went through a re-organization process after Liz moved away to Tallahassee; but things are looking good and we’re going to get it cranked up to full speed again for 2010.

Last, but not least, what’s the ensemble Altramar up to these days?

The members of Altramar are busy teaching! Chris Smith and I teach at TTU, and Jann Cosart teaches at Baylor. David Stattelman lives in Michigan, where he works as a soloist and church musician (and sells Hondas, in case anyone needs some new wheels!) We haven’t done much touring because of our teaching schedules, but we do still perform together, and we have a “First Troubadours” program that’s been simmering on the burner.

This past summer we recorded three pieces for the new version of the Norton Anthology of Music, which is the companion CD volume to the famous “History of Western Music,” (heretofore known as the infamous “Grout” or the “Grout-Palisca,” but recently completely revised by J. Peter Burkholder.)

We had a blast recording the pieces, in a fantastic recording studio out in the flatland boonies of West Texas with engineer Alan Crossland. We contributed two pieces by Dufay and a somewhat raucous version of “Robin m’aime” from the Jeu de Robin et Marion by Adam de la Hale.

Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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