Bringing its soloists, ensembles and panels along with it, the Bloomington Early Music Festival has moved from the spring, when the IU campus is quiet, to the fall, when the academic bustle is just getting underway. This Saturday it welcomes Warren Stewart and his ensemble Magnificat for a concert of Monteverdi’s Madrigals of Love and War. The program fits neatly into IU’s 2011-2012 Themester, “Making War: Making Peace.”
From Romantic To Baroque, Cello Bow To Baton
Stewart began his career as a cellist. “The early music came when I was studying in Europe, in Basel, where there’s a school that specializes in the performance of early music. I just loved everything that I was hearing, got involved in what I was hearing, and never looked back.”
Still an instrumentalist, Stewart was a founding member of his group Magnificat. The step to conducting seemed natural. “We started Magnificat, oh, so long ago. This is our twentieth season. In the very first season we programmed a piece that involved choirs all over the church in various places. We needed someone to direct traffic, and I was the obvious person. I became a conductor.”
Although the works on the program are called madrigals, Stewart says, “These are madrigals in name only. By the end of his career Monteverdi’s pieces involved more solo voices, instruments and parts of the ensemble vying with one another. We’ll have six singers, two violins, violone, harpsichord, lute and three viol players from here in Bloomington.”
Stewart points out that his group’s concert of the Monteverdi’s madrigals is especially appropriate to this year’s theme. “The dedication is to Ferdinand III, the Hapsburg Emperor. I think he was more interested in arts than in war, a composer and a patron of the arts. But there was the Thirty Years War, and he became a military man.”
There will be a pre-concert panel discussion, “Amorous Warfare: The Poetry of Monteverdi’s Madrigals,” with Prof. Sarah Van der Laan, Prof. Massimo Scalabrini, and Prof. Massimo Ossi at 6:30.