Readers may recall that the title for the 2016–17 season of San Francisco Renaissance Voices (SFRV) is The Renaissance Woman. The title of this month’s concert in that season is Wonder Women. Music Director Katherine McKee has prepared a program that features works by early women composers; and it should not be a surprise that some of her selections will be world premieres, while others will be receiving their first West Coast performances.
A few of the names will probably be familiar. The twelfth-century Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen is one of the early composers whose name can be assigned to plainchant, simply because we have documents of her authorship, such as the Ordo Virtutum (order of the virtues). Her popularity is such that Wikipedia has even created a discography page for her. However, she is not the only female composer of plainchant; and McKee’s program will also include the trobairitz (Occitan female troubadour) known as the Comtessa de Dia (countess of Die, an area in the southeast of France), as well as the Byzantine abbess Kassiani.
During the period of transition from the Renaissance into the Baroque, there were a fair number of “musical nuns” based in Italy. Back when he was Artistic Director of Magnificat, Warren Stewart launched a major project to perform and record the compositions of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. Other “musical nuns” to be included on the program will be Vittoria (sometimes identified as “Raffaella”) Aleotti, Caterina Assandra, Isabella Leonarda, Maria Xaveria Perucona, and Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana. There will also be motets by Maria Francesca Nascinbeni and Mexican poet/philosopher Juana Inés de la Cruz (usually known as “Sor Juana”), as well as works for solo voice and continuo by Anne Boleyn, Francesca Caccini (daughter of the Renaissance composer Giulio Caccini), Lady Mary Dering, Lucia Quinciani, and Claudia Sessa.
All of the works on the program will be performed by an ensemble of women’s voices, whose members are Naomi Braun, Divine Celiane, Paula Chacon, Alice Del Simone, Julia Earl, Twila Ehmcke, Elisabeth Eliassen, Alison King, Elfrieda Langemann, Gail MacGowan, Lisa May, Diana Pray, Leandra Ramm, and Maura Sipila; and instrumental accompaniment will be provided by Katherine Heater on portative organ and Gretchen Claassen on gamba and cello.
This program will be given its San Francisco performance at the Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church. This is located at 1329 Seventh Avenue, about a block south of the Seventh Avenue stop on the Muni N line. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13. General admission is $30 with a $25 rate for students and seniors and $20 for children aged twelve or younger. Tickets may be purchased in advance from a Brown Paper Tickets event page. Tickets will go on sale at the door at 7 p.m.