AMF Holiday Special: Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers

Free Holiday Special from America’s Music Festivals

**Monteverdi Vespers of 1610**

Performed by Pacific Musicworks & Stephen Stubbs



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Seattle, Oct. 10, 2011 – The national broadcast series America’s Music Festivals, in collaboration with Seattle’s Early Music Guild, is pleased to offer stations a special holiday broadcast: a live concert performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.

The free program features a stunning performance of the Vespers by Stephen Stubbs and Pacific Musicworks with the early brass ensemble Concerto Palatino.  The broadcast finishes with excerpts from Handel’s oratorio Esther by Pacific Musicworks, with Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and the Tudor Choir.  These dramatic works feature lively instrumental parts and sacred texts – perfect for the holiday season. Recorded in the beautiful acoustic of Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, Esther and the Vespers shine as true early musical masterpieces.

In a review in the Seattle Times, critic Bernard Jacobson wrote of the Vespers and its director,

“…this was an utterly thrilling Vespers, of a quality you are unlikely ever to encounter anywhere else in the world. His direction (as well as his playing on that exotic instrument, the chitarrone) was as lively and spontaneous as it was meticulous in detail. He drew superb playing from the Concerto Palatino ensemble of equally exotic cornetti and sackbuts, and from members of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra.

The man is a genius. Oh, I meant Stubbs. But Monteverdi, too, was no slouch.”

Monteverdi took the Vespers with him in his portfolio when he went to Venice to become the maestro di capella at St. Mark’s Cathedral.   The magnificent architecture of the cathedral inspired the grand polychoral style of 17th century Venetian music and the wonderful interplay of voices and instruments that you’ll hear in this performance.

The excerpts from Handel’s Oratorio Esther come from a concert at the American Handel Festival, held in Seattle in March 2011.  It is a gorgeous performance of Handel’s earliest oratorio, filled with the melodies and drama that made Handel so famous as an opera and oratorio composer.  Esther is a collaboration by Pacific Musicworks, the Tudor Choir (Doug Fullington, Director), and Seattle Baroque Orchestra.  Stephen Stubbs conducts the performance in Seattle’s St. James Cathedral.

(Above) Pacific Musicworks and Steven Stubbs present Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral. Photo Credit: Lee Talner.

Featured Musicians

Vocal soloists for the Vespers are Yulia Van Doren, Terri Richter, Laura Pudwell, Ross Hauck, Jason McStoots, James Brown, Thomas Thompson, David Stutz, and Douglas Williams. Concerto Palatino is led by cornettist Bruce Dickey.  Stephen Stubbs conducts the Pacific Musicworks ensemble, which includes members of Seattle Baroque Orchestra. Seattle Baroque Orchestra is directed by Ingrid Matthews and Byron Schenkman.

Soloists for Esther are Shannon Mercer, Ross Hauck, Charles Robert Stephens, Zachary Wilder, Catherine Webster and Matthew White.  Maxine Eilander is the baroque harpist.

Stephen Stubbs

After a thirty year career in Europe, Stephen Stubbs returned to his hometown of Seattle and established a new music organization focused primarily on the vocal music of the 18th and 17th centuries, Pacific Musicworks. The company received rave reviews in the national press for its inaugural production of Monteverdi’s Return of Ulysses designed and stage-directed by South African artist William Kentridge with the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa in March 2009. Performances took place in Seattle and for SFMOMA in San Francisco.

Since 1997 Stubbs has co-directed the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) opera. The Festival’s recordings of Conradi’s Ariadne, Lully’s Thesée, and Psyché were nominated for Grammy awards in 2005, 2007, and 2009.  In 2011, Stubbs directed the BEMF opera in Handel’s Acis and Galatea for the American Handel Festival in Seattle.  He also conducted the oratorio Esther as part of that same festival.

About Executive Producer Marty Ronish

Marty Ronish is an independent radio producer. She produces the national broadcasts for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (52 weeks a year, airing in 404 markets).  From 2004-2007 she was Editor of the Music Unit at National Public Radio.  Before that she spent twelve years on-air, and 3 years producing arts features for KUNM in Albuquerque.  From 2000-2005 she produced Boombox Classroom, a series of music education programs for kids, supported by the NEA.

Marty has interviewed thousands of artists for radio, including many of the artists who will be featured on this series.

Trained as an educator and musicologist, Marty is co-author with Donald Burrows of A Catalogue of Handel’s Musical Autographs (Oxford University Press, 1994). The book won the Music Library Association’s Book of the Year Award.  Ronish was a Fulbright Scholar in England and received her Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Maryland.