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19.7.11

Breaking Bread with the Lords



See my little piece on the Suspicious Cheese Lords for Washingtonian:

A Night With the Suspicious Cheese Lords (Washingtonian, July 18):

available at Amazon
Vivat Rex: Sacred Choral
Music of Jean Mouton
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Suspicious Cheese Lords
Around 7 PM on a typical Wednesday night, a group of men begins to arrive one by one at the door of a big old house in Columbia Heights. They gather around the table as their host lays out dinner, and the conversation is the sort that one expects among a dozen or so friends. They have come from typical Washington jobs as lawyers and doctors, working in IT firms and non-profits: at least one is between jobs. Jokes and friendly barbs are traded back and forth, and introductions are made as new friends join them, including this week a reporter from Washingtonian.

At 8:30, however, something surprising happens, as the real reason for this gathering becomes clear and the men stand up, clear the table, pass around sheet music, and begin to sing a motet by Jacobus Gallus, a composer active in the Holy Roman Empire in the late 16th century, and other music rarely heard since it was composed in the Renaissance. These are the Suspicious Cheese Lords, an all-male choir that is devoted to the rediscovery of unknown Renaissance polyphony, a vast body of complex music written in generally four or more independent parts overlaid in contrapuntal imitation. If you follow early music in Washington, you have probably already heard of them or at least recognize their rather odd name. [Continue reading]

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