The Anonymous Monk

Sing with the Orlando Consort!

(see also 'Scattered Rhymes')

Perotin and the Anonymous composers of 12th and 13th century Paris.

At the very end of the 12th century and throughout the 13th century the western world took a giant leap forward in the development of many of the fields of human achievement. In the arts and sciences, in religion and education, in law and politics, these were exciting times, and the main focus of all this creative activity was to be found in the city of Paris.

Paris in these years acted like a magnet to the hungry minds of aspiring intellectuals from all over Europe, many of whom were members of holy orders. Sometime around the year 1275 an English monk travelled from the Benedictine Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds to Paris, possibly to enrol as a student. This monk, who is conventionally referred to as 'Anonymous IV', has earned a special place in history as the main source of information on the extraordinary music of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Through him we learn not only the names of the composers Leonin and Perotin, but also of the leading singers of the day.

This concert muses in words and music on the notion that Anonymous IV may have spent time at St. David's Cathedral, on the western coast of Wales, prior to his trip to France and climaxes with a rare performance of Perotin's magisterial Viderunt omnes, possibly the first four-part piece of music ever written. The music is sung in its original format, alternating breath-takingly seductive and virtuosic polyphonic lines with the beguiling and evocative plainchant that provided the foundation for these incredible pieces.

Chant for All!

The Orlando Consort is delighted to invite local amateur singers to join them in the performance of this concert and experience the atmosphere of this mystical repertoire.

One of the most delightful ways of presenting this concert is to re-create the performance style of Notre Dame: while the polyphony was sung by soloists, the plainchant music was sung by a congregation in just the same way that hymns are today. In a workshop with the Orlando Consort, singers of any age and any voice, from beginners to advanced levels, are introduced to the music and hear fascinating insights into medieval life. In the concert, these singers take a pivotal role in the unfolding of the programme.

"Reliving the past and recreating the circumstances in which music might have been performed can be amongst the most satisfying activities of the early music movement, particularly if the audience is invited to engage its own imagination too. Over the Easter weekend the Orlando Consort provided just such an opportunity by conjuring up the sort of music a Franciscan friar might have heard in the 13th century." The Daily Telegraph

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What am I listening to?

You are listening to a commemorative motet, ‘Quis dabit capiti meo aquam’, by the composer, Heinrich Isaac (c1450-1517). Specifically, you will hear the last of the four sections of this beautiful piece, a lament on the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in April 1492. It is one track from our latest disk, The Florentine Renaissance, produced by Hyperion records (DA68349), a rich and varied selection of secular and sacred music, an aural collage of the vibrant city of Florence in the early Renaissance.