Even in the 16th century, people already knew that masterful Renaissance composer Orlandus Lassus's music leaves no one untouched. The fact that his sweet tones created a perfect concordance with great wine, was an open secret.
Zefiro Torna now combines both elements - Lassus's popular repertoire on the one hand, and a selection of exclusive wines on the other – into the sensuous production Lassus Grand Cru. During this musical wine tasting, countertenor and skilled wine expert Steve Dugardin, along with a professional actor, will entertain the audience with exquisite faits divers about Lassus's life.
Zefiro Torna will be touring in Belgium and abroad with this tasteful production.
"Raise the glass! Start the song! Come, let’s cheer, let’s drink, As long as the bright stars shine, as long as the fine bottle bestows on us its content, and the full glass beckons us to enjoyment. Come, my friends, let’s make a toast! Let us all drink!" (Anon., 16thC)
We would like to raise our glass with you on the dawn of this new year in a literal way: during the performance of Lassus Grand Cru, wine flows abundantly to the sounds of Lassus' sweet and danceable songs. In our performance of Slumber, soprano Lore Binon, cellist Benjamin Glorieux and lutenist Jurgen De bruyn will submerge you in nightly atmospheres. Furthermore, 2018 brings many foreign adventures. Coming spring, Zefiro Torna will tour the Netherlands (Slumber and Lassus Grand Cru), France (Scattered Rhymes), Italy (De Fragilitate), Germany and the Czech Republic (Lassus Grand Cru).
We wish you a creative, lovely and exquisit 2018!
Sunday 29 October is the end of daylight saving time. No better medicine to enter the cold winter days than the warm, healing sounds of the Balsam production. After a sold-out Belgian premiere in Leuven, we will bring this program to Bierbeek on 29 October.
A day earlier we will make some Brugse cafés unsafe, together with vocal ensemble Viermaliks, with drinking songs of Orlandus Lassus during Klara's event 'Iedereen Klassiek'. The grand finale of this Lassus Café Chantant will take place in the Concertgebouw Brugge.
After the successful collaboration with the puppet theatre group Ultima Thule during NERF (2013), we are presenting a second music theatre performance B.I.G. (14+). The production will be premiered on 15 September at the Minardschouwburg in Ghent, and will then continue on a tour through Flanders.
A month ago, we ended our concert season with JUST =, an extraordinary production in cooperation with ARSENAAL / LAZARUS, commissioned by the city festival OP.RECHT.MECHELEN. In the meantime, we are working on the brand new musical theatre production B.I.G., which will premiere coming autumn. And of course, we are looking forward to the summer festivals in Belgium and abroad.
Read our newsletter and find out where to find us this summer. We wish you a splendid summer!
A ‘good song’ and dancing music were never far away in the early 17th century England of Elisabeth I and the Stuarts. Traditional grounds, allemandes, pavanes and galliards, country dances, jigs and catches could be heard right next to a folk song, a melancholy lute song, an Italian madrigal or three-voiced ‘canzonettes’. It was a time when music was threaded with references to exuberant court plays or masques and to the tragedies or comedies of the Shakespearian theatre. Which seems plausible considering the number of composers that were affiliated to the renowned theatre company of The King’s Men.
Master John ‘semper dolans’ Dowland and his contemporary Robert Johnson salute the beginning of a new century with their exquisite songs and superb lute music. When thinking about vocal instrumental consort music the names of amongst others Thomas Morley, Philip Rosseter and Richard Allison need to be noted. Composers such as Henry Lawes and William Webb, known before most for their high quality songbooks succeeded them. And finally, somewhere around 1650, we end up with the successful publisher of the manual for English dancing music, entitled “The Dancing Master”, John Playford.
The ensemble Zefiro Torna unites the best of the Belgian historical and traditional music scene and provides a delicious musical blend of sumptuous strings of lutes, cittern, guitar, theorbo and nyckelharpa, entwined with the crystal clear voice of soprano Cécile Kempenaers.
Tears of Joy offer you a delicate balance between pure beauty, tragedy, introspectiveness and cheerfulness, piquancies and a groovy feel.
Cécile Kempenaers soprano
Didier François Nyckelharpa
Jurgen De bruyn renaissance lute, archlute, baroque guitar, chant
Philippe Malfeyt renaissance lute, cittern, theorbo, baroque guitar, percussion
Liner Notes (by Simon Van Damme/ translation: Peter Hannosset)
Lute, Love & Longbottom Leaf...
The long lasting reign of Elisabeth I (starting in 1558) for England meant the end of a century of turmoil in which the religious reforms set in motion by the illustrious Henry VIII, were consolidated. The relative prosperity realised during the policy of the last Tudor queen even lasted after her death in 1603, while Jacob I held the throne. The stable political regime, together with a certain economical prosperity, secured a climate for the arts to prosper. Together with most of the composers on this recording, also playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson find themselves on the bridge between the 16th and 17th century. As music is concerned, apart from the blossoming cathedral polyphony, also more intimate genres see the daylight such as the typical English lute song.
At the end of the 16th century, England finds itself under the spell of a musical genre that had developed some decades earlier in Italy: the madrigal. It concerns poetical texts (at the beginning mostly texts by Francesco Petrarca) that composers set to polyphonous music. Although the madrigal only reached the British Isles relatively late, almost nowhere else the reception was more influential. The original repertoire was added to by English texts, and composers tried to emulate the expressivity of their Italian examples. Thomas Morley for instance was the ambassador par excellence of the genre (as a translator and publisher), but he also made his own contributions with new compositions.
Even though the lute song could be considered a close relative of the madrigal as atmosphere is concerned, the roots of the genre lie elsewhere. The song for a single voice accompanied by a lute (plaid by the singer himself or not) is a typical English concept that in fact didn’t have an equivalent in other countries. The songs share a poetical inspiration with the madrigals, but they choose their own path by playing a style with big rhetorical gestures in small formations. By preferring the solo voice to vocal polyphony, the lute song joins an evolution that manifests itself simultaneously on the continent. But whereas the success of the solo vocalist in countries such as Italy and France leads to the rise of the opera, the soloist in England finds himself at the centre of the small-scale enterprise of the lute song. One of the most popular representatives of the genre was John Dowland.
The words of the first song “Shall I weep or shall I sing” reflect a general characteristic of English songs at the beginning of the 17th century. The singer expresses a personal sorrow, that most of the time is the result of an amorous entanglement, young love or painful rejection. Musically, the words keep playing a central role: the song follows the poetical form of the poem (be it strophic or containing other repetitions), and the textual content is musically translated with the appropriate means (matched rhythms, sustained tones, typical accompaniment patterns). The subgenre of the complaint song, with melodies that at some points almost realistically approach the sound of crying, is popular in the repertoire for solo with accompaniment. Next to melancholic love complaints also more joyful songs can be heard, with playful or even exuberant themes. Sometimes an ode addresses the female beauty (invariably sketched against the background of a warm summer’s day), but it can also tell the story of other delights such as the tobacco. While the latter songs find their roots amongst city artists on street corners and on squares, the more elevated love verses stem from the context of the theatre or even the courtly tradition.