See my review of the gala concert of the Washington Early Music Festival:
Review: Washington Early Music Festival (Washingtonian, July 11):
The body of music known as “classical music,” judging by the fairly narrow offerings of traditional classical music ensembles at least, began with Mozart. Fortunately Washington has a surprising number of performing groups specializing in early music, a nebulous term that is usually applied to music composed before the 18th century and played on historical instruments or otherwise informed by scholarship, in an attempt to revive the sounds of previous centuries. Since 2004, the Washington Early Music Festival has offered a forum for these ensembles to present concerts on a common theme. After the first couple of seasons presenting the festival every summer, the event is now presented in even-numbered years only, in alternation with the Boston Early Music Festival. In odd-numbered years, the festival presents a single gala concert, which happened on Saturday, at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill.
Soror mea, Sponsa mea: Canticum Canticorum nei Conventi,
The three-hour event featured nine ensembles in perhaps too much music, all of it loosely centered on the theme of passions, some celestial and some more human. The most beautiful musical discovery was a motet, Ave suavis dilectio, by Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704), a woman who had a prolific career as a composer while a nun in an Ursuline convent. Soprano Rosa Lamoreaux sang with limpid tone, never pushed to more abrasive sound by the clean playing of ArcoVoce, and trading phrases of the Latin poem, on the delights of the Catholic sacraments, with ecstatic outbursts from the paired violins. [Continue reading]
Stephen Brookes, Washington Early Music Festival fundraising gala (Washington Post, July 11)