In this performance at the A Cappella City, USA festival in Ann Arbor, MI, three songs are performed. The first song, Chi La Gagliarda by Baldassare Donato, depicts young men trying to convince young ladies that they are excellent dance instructors. Each verse starts out polyphonic (where all the parts come in at different times), but becomes more homophonic (all the parts singing as one) as the couples learn to dance together. Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno by Jacques Arcadelt compares a swan’s death with the “little death”, a metaphor for something far more pleasant. The song was constantly in publication for the first 100 years after its first printing in 1539, and its popularity helped the classic madrigal style to spread beyond Italy. The final song is Hark Ye Lovely Saints Above by Thomas Weelkes. It pokes fun at Renaissance poetry’s obsession with lovesick melancholy and despair, suggesting playfully that perhaps if we did away with love altogether we could be perfectly happy.
Orlando di Lassus was one of the most famous and influential vocal music composers of the 16th century. He wrote over 2,000 songs in Latin, Italian, French, and German. Madonna Ma Pieta is a very passionate song in which the lover begs his partner to end her teasing, saying in Italian “water, my lady, for the fire.” This was performed at the St. Cecilia at the Tower SCA event in Saline, MI.
Away with These Self Loving Lads is a poem by Fulke Greville, put to music by John Dowland. In the poem, those who try to stick to honor over love are admonished. Love, though it may be inconstant is always nevertheless victorious. This was performed at a St. Cecilia at the Tower SCA event in Saline, MI.