Medieval Concert: Unexpected Innovations


People’s Museum of Limerick

Vlad Smishkewych, voice, sinfonia, percussion

Sarah Groser, vielle

Michelle O’Connor, vielle

(40 mins, followed by Q&A)

Most modern impressions of the medieval period tend towards an antiquarian and dismal view of this period, so often referred to as the “Dark Ages.” Although it had its share of social backwardness (one could equally argue the same of our present age) it was nonetheless a time of great musical, literary, and artistic flourishing. Each generation of the so-called “long medieval period”—between the 9th through to the 14th centuries—saw itself as the vanguard of its time. Musical styles shifted rapidly in Europe, as plainchant incorporated the novel forms of polyphony that arose from within its own musical matrix (organum) and interwove this with versus, the new song genre that brought the troubadours to the fore in the 12th through 14th centuries. Freer polyphonic styles incorporated modal rhythmic structures, evolving into highly ordered motets that would eventually culminate in the Ars Nova, even giving rise to such esoteric forms as the jazzy Ars Subtilior. The opening concert of H.I.P.S.T.E.R.’s Early Music Day celebrations brings together many of these innovative musical styles, representatives of various forms of medieval-style Avant-garde from the 11th through 15th centuries, from Machaut’s songs and Dufay and Vitry’s motets to the offbeat wackiness of Ars Subtilior composers Ciconia, Solage and Cordier.

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Stars and Stones: an evening of medieval music

7 March 2020 – 7:30pm

Anita’s Gallery, Mountshannon, Co. Clare

Michelle O’Connor, vielle

Wolodymyr “Vlad” Smishkewych, harp, sinfonia/organistrum, percussion

Musical explorations and poetic symbols from Ireland to Iberia

Part of the Borderlines Project

From sacred medieval songs filled with poetic symbolism, from the dolmens and stone crosses of Ireland to the Campus Stellae of Santiago, and from ancient Celtic hymns to troubadour and trouvère music with origins along the pilgrimage and cultural paths of historic Europe, STARS & STONES explores the symbolic meaning behind these recurring medieval themes, including musically-inspired carvings on stone crosses, monuments, figures in the tympana and statues in churches where musical allegory was frozen into the carved stone, and music inspired by melodies that originated in the great stone sanctuaries of the middle ages: cathedrals and cloisters. This musical pilgrimage crosses the North Atlantic and includes stops in Ireland, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and more, and explores the intertwined history of place, pilgrimage, physical and allegorical symbol, using as inspiration the images found along these paths of stars and stones.

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