The Italian Singer-Songwriter Superstars
The Italian renaissance saw an explosion of musical publishing. Composers were able to gain an international reputation through their compositions rather than relying on performances. Part of this change was due to the popularity a new expressive style of solo song, the development of which had been driven by virtuosic female singers who often accompanied themselves with Lute or Viol.
Lux Musicae London celebrates this music through the compositions of Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi two women respected among their peers equally for their compositions and performance. Bravely and controversially they chose to publish these compositions under their own name.
The programme pairs the way each composer explored timeless topics of love, heartbreak and worship and also contains instrumental music influenced by this new style including compser and nun Isabella Leonarda’s stunning solo sonata.
The New Troy
From as early as the 9th century, British historians and poets have believed that Britain was founded by Brutus of Troy, legendary descendent of the Trojan hero Aeneas. With the etymological links between ‘Britain’ and the Latin ‘Brutus’, this origin story prevailed through British history and into the 17th century, where London’s rising literary and musical culture became engrossed in classical mythology. Soon, it became widely declaimed that London had been founded in the hopes of creating a new Troy.
Lux Musicae London investigates Britain’s alternative origin story by exploring the music that was inspired by the classical history that Londoners felt coursing through their veins, as well as music that represents the attitudes and cultural context.
Our programme follows a journey around landmarks of the city that sought to achieve cultural dominance. These buildings brought the architectural ideas of the ancient world to London, housed some of this daring new music, and inspired some of the most popular tunes and pervaded the drinking songs that would have echoed through the streets.
At the dawn of the 17th century, the musical centre of gravity in Europe had shifted from the Elizabethan court to the court of Christian the IV, from London to Copenhagen. King Christian’s polyglot interests and international outlook brought some of the most outstanding musical talents to his court. Among the first was Lutenist John Dowland. He worked there on and off throughout his career, returning to England to supervise the publication of his Books of Ayres and to recruit talented musicians to the court in Denmark.
After one such trip, he returned to Denmark with dancing master and harpist known by Carolus Oralii. ‘Carolus Oralii’ was a Latinisation of Charles O’Reilly, an Irish harpist who seems not to have fared too well at the court, being dismissed after a short time and replaced by other harpists Donald O’Cahal and Darby Scott.
Our programme looks at the music of the Danish Court through the lens of the Irish and English musicians and through the principles that their recruitment suggests, namely the importance of dance and the national traditions that the musicians brought to the court.
Secrets of Andalusia
We know that key influences on Flamenco date back to Islamic Iberia or the Al- Andalusian era of Spain between the 8th – 15th centuries. Yet the first mention of Flamenco by name is not until 1774, where it appears in an epistolary novel, Cartas Marruecas, by the playwright and soldier, José de Cadalso y Vázquez.
What happened in these intervening centuries?
In collaboration with esteemed Oud player, Julian Harris, and Flamenco guitarist, Ignacio Lusardi, this programme seeks to explore this question by tracing the influences on Flamenco through Arabic music alongside Sephardic song and the Spanish composers of the late-16th to 18th centuries.