Summer 2017 with Canto Armonico

Concerts on Cape Cod and in Germany

Follow us on Facebook as we return to Cape Cod and to Germany for more summer appearances!

We will perform at the Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole on August 26th and the next day at St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea in Hyannis Port. Then we head across the Atlantic for Reformation-era programs in Preetz in Schleswig-Holstein on September 1st and in Bergedorf, just east of Hamburg, on September 2nd.

The program SavonarolaLutheris entitled "Vanished Glories Across the Channel," combining English Reformation-era music with Italian music from the Counter-Reformation and the years preceding it. The centerpiece is William Byrd's powerful "Infelix Ego," to words by Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), an Italian friar deeply and sincerely opposed to the religious hypocrisy around him in Florence. His calls for reform rattled the Medici in power. In return, he was burned at the stake, yet he is memorialized on the Reformers' Statue in Worms, the city where Martin Luther made his famous "Here I stand" speech in front of emperor Charles V.

On Sunday, September 3rd comes another treat, the chance to sing in the divine service in Lübeck's grand Jakobikirche with its two large historic organs! In his first trip to Germany, Canto Armonico singer and organist Jonathan Wessler has the privilege of playing a Praeludium of Dieterich Buxtehude on the famous Stellwagen instrument, and accompanying us from the rear balcony organ in one of the anthems.

Reformation Music for the 2016-2017 Season

Reformation Jubilee Vespers in Dresden, June 16

At First Lutheran Church, 5 pm: Dr. Ulf Wellner returns to direct Canto Armonico in music of Schütz, Scheidt and Praetorius, based on a description of the Jubilee events at Dresden's Hofkapelle beginning on October 31, 1617. Michael Praetorius, acting Kapellmeister at the time, was not given leave to attend by his superior in Wolfenbüttel, so chapel organist Schütz directed all the music instead, and got promoted to Kapellmeister shortly afterwards! This concert is given during the Boston Early Music Festival.

Christmas music on December 9 in Boston, and December 10 in Stonington, Connecticut

Canto Armonico performs music of German Reformation-era composers such as Michael Praetorius and Heinrich Schütz with modern German and English counterparts Hugo Distler, Benjamin Britten, and William Walton, at First Lutheran Church, Boston (Friday, 8 pm) and at the La Grua Center in Stonington, Connecticut (Saturday, 5 pm).

Both programs feature Praetorius' Magnificat super Angelus ad Pastores with interpolated old German carols, six in all. The interpolated Magnificat at Christmastide is a practice that Praetorius encouraged during vesper services, as it invited the congregation to participate using contemporary spiritual songs, some of them very jaunty in character, whether in German or Latin!

September 2016 Concert Tour in Central Germany featured Reformation-era MusicMindenVespers

September brought a singular honor to Canto Armonico: an invitation to perform in the annual Praetorius-Tage in Michael's native town of Creuzburg, in central Germany near Eisenach. Held over the second weekend in September in the church where Michael Praetorius was baptized, the festival brought in a large and enthusiastic crowd. It was a magnificent opportunity for Canto Armonico to perform in this famous old building with Martin Luther's portrait prominently displayed within! Earlier in the day, many of the singers climbed up and toured the nearby Wartburg castle where Luther translated the New Testament during his confinement there. Our program in Creuzburg, entitled "Vesper zum Johannisfest mit Musik von und um Michael Praetorius," featured psalms, motets and a two-choir Magnificat by Michael Praetorius and his contemporaries, interspersed with chant sung in 17th-century Lutheran style by Director and Kantor Dr. Ulf Wellner. The entire program was broadcast live on Saturday, September 10th, by Wartburg Radio in Eisenach. We were delighted to perform the same program for two other congregations in historic churches in Minden and Celle, north and west of Hannover. In Minden we were treated to a tour of the over 1000-year-old church by Pastor Christoph Ruffer, including a climb up into the sturdy bell tower where we were indeed transported backward in time! We were joined in the concerts by Christoph Seehase, lute, and Isabel Walter and Christine Vogel, gambas.

In separate programs, we sang Tudor Reformation music in smaller churches in Hämelschenburg and Erfurt. Again, we were greeted with large and most appreciative audiences eager to hear our Reformation-themed programs and, in turn, were amazed by the ancient artwork and historical objects on display in even the smallest buildings. We plan return visits in 2017.

Celestial Harmonies, Divine Inspiration: Vespers Music for the Tudors

July 20th at 5 pm, St. Christopher's Church, Chatham, a program of Tudor church music

In the early 1600s the Separatists came to Cape Cod to practice their faith free of the restrictions imposed by the Church of England. In due time, Anglicans followed. St. Christopher's in Chatham is the setting for a program of Anglican and English Catholic music from the early years of the reformation (ca. 1540-1590), by three of England's greatest composers active during those tumultuous times: John Sheppard, Thomas Tallis, and William Byrd.

Our First Recording Appears on Hungaroton/Naxos!

Hungaroton CD cover

Chorales of Michael Praetorius, Heinrich Schütz, Johann Hermann Schein, and Samuel Scheidt

Now available from Hungaroton and iTunes, a new recording of Bach's monumental Clavierübung III by Bálint Karosi, with Canto Armonico performing the chorales that provide the basis for Bach's organ settings.

In this recording Canto Armonico is directed by Cheryl Ryder, artistic director and manager of Canto Armonico, and Ulf Wellner, former Kantor at Lübeck's Jakobikirche and now Kantor at the Martinikirche in Minden, Germany. Professor Markus Rathey of Yale University has written the liner notes.

Most current recordings of the Clavierübung III feature the organ chorale versions only, but this new recording immerses the listener in the 17th-century world of the young Bach and fellow composers, and demonstrates how central the sung chorale was to these German composers' lives. They would have known not only the simple versions of the chorales from church hymnals, but also many of the polyphonic settings published and sung by boys in the Latin school curriculum. Canto Armonico records a sampling of these polyphonic chorale settings alongside their simpler counterparts, as follows:

The settings by Praetorius for two tenors and two basses, in particular, merit special attention as they demonstrate how adept the composer was at writing music for whatever forces were at his disposal! We recorded the chorales in September and October under the direction of Dr. Ulf Wellner, a specialist in the music of Michael Praetorius, who directed our June 2013 performance of the St. John the Baptist vespers service during Boston's Early Music Festival.

Lutheran Vespers Music by Canto Armonico

Jakob Handl: Emitte Spiritum
Michael Praetorius: Der heil'ge Geist von Himmel kam
Michael Praetorius: Komm, heiliger Geist
Heinrich Schütz: Becker Psalm 104: Herr, wie gross sind deine Werk
Hieronymus Praetorius: Jubilate Deo