Madrigral singers perform at Joslyn
December 17th, 2012
Omaha, NE – The Joslyn Art Museum continues its Holiday Under Glass concert series this week with a performance fresh from the Renaissance.
Madrigal music dates back to the 1500s when Italian aristocracy called on servants or ladies-in-waiting to perform as the eveningâ€™s entertainment. The singers would sing from secular texts â€“ or poetry – usually in small dining halls or living rooms, as Dr. Matt Harden, director of choral activities at the University of Nebraska Omaha, explained. â€œIt goes back to printing in the early 1500s,â€ Harden said. â€œSome of the texts can be rather lascivious,â€ he added with a laugh, â€œitâ€™s kind of entertaining in a lot of ways.â€
Harden is the founder of Madrigali et al., a group that continues the Madrigal tradition in Omaha. It began as a group of students performing during UNOâ€™s annual Shakespeare on the Green festival and has expanded to become a community group of about 20 singers. â€œWe have so much fun,â€ Harden said. â€œWhen we do the Shakespeare festival, weâ€™re literally walking among the audience, standing within feet of them, and weâ€™ll incorporate them into some of the madrigals we doâ€¦ It just makes it a little bit more exciting. It brings the audience in.â€
Hardenâ€™s group will perform at the Joslyn Art Museum this week as part of its nine-part Holiday Under Glass concert series. The group will sing several selections from the Renaissance era including â€œVerbum Caro Factum Estâ€ by Hans Hassler, along with â€œHodie Christus Natus Estâ€ by Sweelinck. The group will also perform a piece by a former professor of Hardenâ€™s from Portland State University Brian Johanson using the text of the traditional “O Magnum Mysterium.”Madrigali et al., will also sing a selection of Christmas carols – Madrigal style – and Harden will be on hand to translate and discuss some of the texts. â€œSongs like â€˜God Rest You Merry Gentleman,â€™â€ Harden said, â€œâ€™God rest you merryâ€™ was a greeting of the day. We donâ€™t tend to think of that. We just think of this carol as just a set of words.â€
â€œI try really hard to try and get all of the music and the text to come alive for the audience,â€ he said.
Madrigali et al. will perform at the Joslyn Art Museum on Wednesday at noon. Central High School Singers will close out the concert series on Friday.
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