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Traditions Series: Easter

The Harmonia Traditions Series explores music for Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Plus, a new release by Rinaldo Alessandrini's Concerto Italiano.

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Of the many holidays celebrated throughout the Christian liturgical year, Easter Day and Holy Week are the most important. From the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to his Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection, the events of those seven days are described in the Bible’s Gospels in a narrative most compelling for its vividness. Christianity’s great icon is depicted in very human terms whose spiritual, physical, and emotional state is resolved to fulfill God’s prophecy.

The Friday before Easter Day is known as Good Friday, the day when the crucifixion took place. Christians often refer to Jesus’ suffering and the events preceding the crucifixion as the Passion of Christ, primarily described in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

If the days leading up to Easter Sunday are filled with sorrow and suffering, then Easter Day is one of joyful and exuberant celebration for the miracle known as Christ’s Resurrection. Music for Easter reflects this uniquely Christian joy of thanksgiving. Text settings often end with a statement of Alleluia, an expression of joy in praise of God.

Our new release of the week features the Concerto Italiano, directed by Rinaldo Alessandrini. Masses by Pergolesi and Alessandro Scarlatti are the focus in a Naïve label recording.

Here’s a video of Le Poeme Harmonique performing an excerpt from François Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres for Holy Week:


The music heard on this episode was performed by La Colombina, Schola Antiqua, Ensemble Daedalus, A Capella Portugeusa, Pro Cantione Antiqua, Véronique Gens, Sandrine Piau, Christophe Rousset, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Les Musiciens de Louvre.

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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