The 2020 Festival has been postponed to July 2021.
Amherst Early Music offers an exciting range of new viola da gamba programming for all levels of musician. Whether you’re brand new to the instrument, looking for opportunities to play your favorite consort repertoire, or seeking to fine tune your sense of style as a soloist and gain experience on stage, the Amherst Early Music Festival offers engaging classes and world-class faculty.
Week One features numerous opportunities for players of all levels. World renowned virtuoso Paolo Pandolfo will offer daily masterclasses and ensemble coaching, as well as a special technique class. The Central Program offers coached viol consorts and many opportunities to play Medieval and Renaissance music with fellow students and an exciting array of faculty. Students can audition for the Viol Intensive Project with Sarah Cunningham and Paolo Pandolfo, as part of the Baroque Academy. This year's Viol Intensive will offer a week of diving deep into solo and ensemble viol music. In keeping with the Festival's Italian theme, viol players will have the opportunity focus on improvisation as well as on the viola bastarda repertoire and improvisation-based diminutions and Recercatas. The Corelli Opus V transcriptions for viol, Handel cantata and oratorio obligato parts, consort and Baroque ensemble playing are also on the menu. Enrollment is limited and by audition, due date for auditions is April 1, 2021.
The Viol Excelsior program for intermediate to advanced viol players, combines a focus on playing consort music with an emphasis on improving musicianship and technical skill on the viol. Viol Excelsior—“ever upward”—challenges you to spend the week playing great music while honing your consort ensemble skills, solidifying technique, and refining your musicianship. This year we will focus on the Italian origins and further development of consort music.
Festival Viol Classes
Week I Central Program Viol classes: (pitch a’415)
Canzona: Cantare to Sonare (Lipnik, Ludwig): trace the development of this iconic musical genre from its French chanson roots to sumptuous maturity in the works of Maschera, Guami, and the Gabrielis. Other related musical styles including ricercari and chansons will be contrasted and compared. Repertoire highlights will include ricercari from Musica Nova, Venice 1540 and canzoni from Raverii’s Canzoni per Sonare con omni forte di Stromenti, Venice 1608. Consorts will be carefully sorted according to level of technical and musical proficiency.
Baroque Orchestra (Blaker, Mortimore) Music from the Salons and Cathedrals of Rome, Venice, and Bologna; elegant, colorful, theatrical, exotic, and just plain exciting concerti by Corelli, Bassani, and Vivaldi will feature every section of the orchestra.
Baroque String Band (Lekx) music for the violin and viol families
Roma “La Città Eterna” (Lipnik); glorious works by Palestrina, Victoria, and their contemporaries who were drawn to Rome by their fervent Catholic faith. The Eternal City was a center of musical activity during the height of the Renaissance, welcoming composers from across the continent and inspiring some of the most transcendent musical treasures ever created. Explore madrigals both sensual and spiritual including selections from Palestrina’s Madrigali Spirituali, 1594, and Victoria’s Motecta Festorum, 1585, as well as movements from Palestrina’s magnificent Missa Sine Nomine and Papae Marcelli. For viols, other soft instruments and singers. (pitch a’440)
L’Amorosa Ero (Lipnik); a heartbreaking legend cast as a poem by an Italian Renaissance nobleman and set to music by some of the most innovative composers of the Italian Renaissance including Marenzio and Luzzaschi. Enjoy a rare opportunity to explore how a single text can inspire boundless compositional inventiveness and expression. For viols.
Week II Central Program Viol Excelsior: (pitch a’440)
The Viol Excelsior program offers technique and ensemble classes with Rozendaal, Springfels, Ludwig, and Bontrager to take your viola da gamba skills to the next level! For intermediate to advanced viols. Pitch for the Viol Excelsior program is A=440.
Sweet Shade, the True Way (Bontrager, Rozendaal); this year’s Viol Excelsior technique class explores Girolamo dalla Casa’s Il Vero modo di diminuir, one of the great ornamentation treatises of Renaissance Italy. In class we will play madrigals in their simple versions; practice dalla Casa’s versions, and make our own diminutions on the bicinia of Orlando Lasso. The class is designed to include all viol sizes and all ability levels.
Mass Settings of the High Renaissance (Rozendaal); before1523 Petrucci had published not less than 16 collections of mass settings by more than a dozen different composers, giving us a good idea of what works were in circulation and enjoying popularity at the time. Our class will look at two 4-voice settings: the Missa La Spagna of Heinrich Isaac, and the Missa Pange Lingua of Josquin.
Canzona and Ricercar (Ludwig); Renaissance “New Music” from Italy.
Madrigals of Arcadelt, Verdelot, Willaert, et alia (Rozendaal); the earliest viol players relished playing madrigals on their viols; and indeed the earliest madrigals sound ravishing when played on a consort of viols. This class will enjoy exploring the sweetly atmospheric works of Verdelot and Arcadelt; the raucous villanesche of Willaert as well as the contrapuntal and rhetorical perfection of Willaert’s innovative madrigals.
Tragicomedia: settings of Guarini’s “il Pastor Fido” (Springfels); works by Wert, Marenzio, and Monteverdi.
Music for Isabella (Springfels); music for the courts in Mantua and Ferrara circa 1500.
Al ballo amori (Ludwig); Italian dances for viol consort.