Founded by tenor Bud Roach in 2008, Capella Intima has carved out a niche for itself in the Toronto early music scene by presenting the vocal chamber music of the 17th century in exciting concerts of rarely-heard gems. With motets and cantatas for up to four voices interspersed with readings from composers, performers and critics of the period, audiences are given context to music that has only come to light in recent years, thanks to the renewed interest in historically informed performance.
With a flexible roster of singers and musicians, each programme has a developed theme, whether it be the rebellious Benedictine Nuns of Milan, the students and teachers at the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, or the complex musical politics in Monteverdi’s time in Venice.
Thus far the ensemble’s focus has been on Italian music in Rome, Milan and Venice, with juxtapositions of the sacred and secular that have fascinated audience members from across the spectrum of concert-going experience. Those who have never attended a concert of early music as well as subscription-holders to Tafelmusik and the Toronto Consort have come away equally enthusiastic about Capella Intima’s performances.
The continuo group of instrumentalists for Capella Intima are regular performers of early music in Toronto, across Canada and internationally. Sara-Anne Churchill (portative organ), Lucas Harris (theorbo) and Kate Haynes (baroque cello) appear regularly with Tafelmusik, the Aradia Ensemble and the Toronto Consort.
The vocal forces assembled are dependant on the requirements of each programme’s theme. Music from the Jesuits' German College in Rome featured three male voices, as much of the music featured would have been performed by the male students at the school. For the Milanese programme of music composed by the controversial nuns, alto Vicki St.-Pierre was featured along with Dawn Bailey and Erin Bardua, sopranos.
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Music from the Collegium Germanicum
Giaccomo Carissimi spent the majority of his career nurturing the talented students at the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, and his efforts made the church of St. Apollinare a serious contender for the best music available in the city, even over that of the Papal Chapel! But the Collegium was run by the Jesuits, who traditionally had little interest in music. What was clear, however, was that as the news spread across Europe about the spectacular music that was heard there, the more likely it was that the Collegium would have a steady stream of students from the wealthiest families in Italy and Germany.
This programme features three male voices, with a continuo group of organ and theorbo.
Celestial Sirens: Music of the Nuns of Milan
At a time when no less than forty percent of young girls were sent into convents, the Benedictine order was to emerge as a major centre for music in Italy. Visitors to Milan were enchanted by the modern musical visions of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Isabella Leonarda, and Claudia Sessa, as well as the sublime voices of the performers, many of whom developed a significant fan base throughout the Northern provinces. This was to pose a dilemma for church leaders, who struggled to reconcile the rising fame of the solo singers with the necessary humility of a cloistered life. When some nuns pushed the boundaries too far, the authorities pushed back, with devastating consequences. “Celestial Sirens” presents a narrative of the debate that raged throughout the 17th century in Milan. Letters both humorous and tragic are read between musical selections of inspired beauty.
This programme features four voices (two sopranos, alto and tenor) with a continuo group of portative organ plus cello and/or theorbo.
In the Shadow of Monteverdi (For presentation in October/November, 2010)
Claudio Monteverdi was a musical superstar throughout his career in Cremona and Venice, and remains so to this day. His pioneering of the “seconda prattica” created the new, harmonically-driven music that forms the basis of all Western music composed since the early 17th century! But he was far from alone in these developments. What about his fellow composers- particularly his assistants at the Venetian church of San Marco? And why have their names not remained in the public consciousness as the great Monteverdi’s has? “In the Shadow of Monteverdi” juxtaposes music by the master with that of Alessandro Grandi and Francesco Cavalli, two of his assistants at St. Mark’s, as well as another of his neglected successors, Giovanni Legrenzi.
This programme features three male voices (tenor, baritone, bass) with a continuo group of portative organ and cello.