Photo: William Stickney
The Tudor Choir
The Seattle-based Tudor Choir has been performing Renaissance polyphony and early American music for nearly two decades. The flexible ensemble is made up of twelve core singers and is directed by its founder, Doug Fullington. The choir’s performances and recordings have received international acclaim.
During the 2009-2010 season, the choir performed on the Early Music of the Seattle’s International Series. The program was devoted to the sacred music of four prominent Flemish Renaissance composers—Jacob Vaet, Nicolas Gombert, Jacob Obrecht, and Jacob Clemens non Papa.
Many of the Flemish composers on the Tudor Choir’s program were well-traveled and found work in a number of European courts. However, Jacob Clemens non Papa was the exception—his professional career was confined, perhaps by choice, to the Lowlands. One side-effect of this fact was that Clemens non Papa was relatively uninfluenced by mainstream trends of his day. His prolific work is considered brilliant by many scholars and performers.
Who was Perotin?
Very little is known about the French composer named Perotin, yet he is one of the most famous medieval European composers. What we do know is that he was a choirmaster of the chapel where the current Notre Dame Cathedral stands. Also, Perotin’s music is preserved in the Magnus Liber, or “Great Book,” which contains early polyphonic church music (Perotin is known for having composed three- and four-part organum, the earliest form of polyphony, or music with multiple lines).
Unlike any other western composer, Johann Sebastian Bach’s music has been taken and changed into many other kinds of music, often retaining its basic musical nature and spirit if clothed in a new wardrobe.
For Vladimir Ivanoff and ensemble Sarband, J.S. Bach’s Matthew and John Passions were the inspiration and fodder for our featured Jaro label release entitled the Arabian Passion According to J.S. Bach.
Excerpting Bach’s words, melodies, and harmonies, the ensemble molded what is essentially Lutheran baroque music into a work which recalls the original but one that is clearly transformed into Middle-Eastern music, incorporating Eastern and Western instruments, Eastern modes and improvisation, as well as translating part of the German text into Arabic.
The cross-cultural work is in many ways timeless and ruminates around the story of the Passion.