First project week Centre Cantus Modalis: Winchester Troper
Course year 2009-2010 of the educative branch of the centre for modal music, Centre Cantus Modalis, will be primarily concerned with Early English Music. The first project week (14-18 Sept. 2009), lead by Rebecca Stewart and Ellen Hünigen, will concentrate on chant and organum for the third Mass for Christmas from the first known source ofwestern polyphony, the 11th-century Winchester Troper. For more information see: www.cantusmodalis.org .This year the Centre Cantus Modalis is offering six Project Weeks on early western music (ca. 900-1550) as well as two modal "trips" and two Modal Technique Days. After its "Italian year" the focus of the current (more or less) English year will once more be on chant and polyphony from the medieval and Renaissance periods.
All courses are open for (max. 16) experienced amateur- or (pre)professional singers (and a limited number of instrumentalists) and auditors (max. 10). As usual the music is studied from the earliest sources (in facsimile). The teaching concept is one in which the study of movement and language takes precedence over that of pitch and word. Hence the term 'Cantus Modalis'.
This year - in contrast with earlier years - the Centre Cantus Modalis is not operating from Tilburg alone, but has several teaching locations in the Netherlands and abroad, this in order to give more people the opportunity to get to know this extraordinary music and very useful approach.
First in the series of projects is a week devoted to the Winchester Troper. This earliest known English music manuscript (compiled around 1020-30) has its provenance at Winchester Cathedral. It consists of a collection of often troped chant and organa for the mass and office. (A trope is an added text and/or second melody whose function is to make the chant more suitable for the feast in question.) The Winchester Troper has the distinction of being the earliest known source for western polyphony. Moreover, although some continental chant sources often show closely related melodies, the Winchester Troper displays some melodic, intervallic and even rhythmic clichés which could only be called 'English' in character. In short: it is very suitable study material with which to start this English year.
Using the (troped) chants for the third Christmas mass, the participating singers are introduced to the principles of the earliest two-voice organum and the English chant practice of the time. As some of the chants - such as the Introitus, Offertorium, Sanctus, Communio and Agnus dei - lack an organal voice, the singers will also take their first steps along the path of making a contrapuntal melody according to these earliest known principles. The beautiful 2007 facsimile edition of the Winchester Troper, edited by Susan Rankin, will be the main source for instruction.
Teachers for this project week are Rebecca Stewart and Ellen Hünigen. Dr. Stewart is artistic leader of the Centre Cantus Modalis. Her fellow teacher during the Winchester week will be Ellen Hünigen, composer, musicologist and singer, who lives and works in Berlin. She is a founding member of the ensemble Vox Nostra, which sings predominantly organum. As a musicologist she is specialised in the Aquitanian style of organum prevalent in southern France and northern Spain during the 12th century. She also studies Early English.
Course data: 14 - 18 September 2009, with a presentation on Fr. the 18th at 14.30 o'clock.
Location: Jewish Liberal Synagogue, Tilburg, NL.
Course fee: 160 Euro, teaching material ca. 20 Euro; auditors 15 Euro per day.