Voices Appeared

Voices Appeared is a soundtrack of music composed or performed during the lifetime of Jeanne d'Arc to accompany screenings of Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent film, La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc.  It was devised in 2015 by Donald Greig, a member of the group, and features music by Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Gautier Libert and a host of lesser-known composers of the period. It has been performed more than sixty times worldwide, including at the Salzburg Festival, in New York, Los Angeles, London, Seville, Amsterdam, Toronto, Montreal, Zurich, Hamburg, Malmö, San Francisco, Vancouver and Seattle.

“The spectator was immersed in the fifteenth century...moved by the intensity of images and music.’ El Mundo

“[T]his is an exceptional achievement that reminds us just how potent the combination of silent film and live music can be.” The Guardian

[T]his now seems the benchmark score for Dreyer’s masterpiece." Classical Source

“A radical solution” The New Yorker

“a brilliant experiment” Cleveland Classical

“...a thought-provoking experiment that questioned the relationship between sound and image.” Musical Toronto

“Even without Dreyer’s searing film, to hear music of this immensely early period sung with such purity, wisdom, and insight is an inspiration” The Church Times

‘The vocal performance of the Orlando Consort was admirable, completing this marathon with unending elegance and lightness of touch, synchronising the smallest gestures and looks of the film with absolute precision.” Dreh Punkt Kultur

“If the film of Dreyer, in its inexorable advance to death at the stake of its protagonist, is distressing by itself, with this music, sung intensely during the hundred minutes by the five singers of the Orlando Consort, it is redoubled, together with an ability to stir our consciences and our emotions. Dreyer would have approved the experiment with enthusiasm and, from now on, it seems impossible to see the film again without it.” El País

Scene breakdown

"The following provides a breakdown of the various scenes of Carl Theodor Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) with a map of the music used in The Orlando Consort's Voices Appeared project. You will also find explanations for the choice of music, together with information about the composers and the compositions."

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Dreyer, strangeness and perversion

"I’m going to write a separate essay on the particular nature of film space in the movie, but it might help to consider the previous example in a little more detail. Lemaître’s questions to Joan about the Lord’s Prayer are shown with him looking off screen left, gazing down at Jeanne. But when he begins another line of questioning without any of the characters having moved, he is now looking up at her.  To interpret this inconsistency as metaphor is certainly possible – Lemaître has been belittled; Jeanne is now in the ascendancy - but the examples are so numerous that one hesitates to do so."

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Article for The Guardian

"Tonight, in St Margaret’s church in York, and the following day in Tewkesbury Abbey, the Orlando Consort, a vocal ensemble that specialises in medieval music, will take to the stage and sing a chanson by Guillaume Dufay with lyrics by Christine de Pizan from her 1429 poem about Joan of Arc. Dressed all in black, small earpieces in our ears, the glow of two laptops casting ghostly shadows on our faces, we will look more like Kraftwerk c.1975 than an early-music group."

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How we do it

"In the early days of film scoring, composers wrote music to last a specific amount of time, achieving that by dividing the beat and ascribing metronome marks. Then, more often than not, it was down to a conductor to observe those instructions in the studio. The orchestra would be assembled beneath a large screen, with a view of both afforded to the conductor. The metronome mark would be a guide only, specific moments – ‘stings’, beginnings or endings – indicated by a streamer that ran across the film so that the conductor could co-ordinate that particular dramatic moment with his beat (it was ubiquitously a man conducting)."

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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.