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Cyrilla Barr, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge: American Patron of Music
This year's Founder's Day concert was devoted to the lesser-known end of Mrs. Coolidge's interests, early music. Three groups came together to present a long -- perhaps too long -- program of Renaissance music of many different kinds. We started in the late Renaissance with pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli and Carlo Gesualdo, in arrangements performed by the United States Navy Band Brass Ensemble. The Gabrieli pieces were most effective, written for something at least resembling the modern brass ensemble. Gabrieli knew how to write for big blocks of sound and used a broad vocabulary of echos, fanfare motifs, and spatial effects. The only thing missing was a grand space for the sound to fill: imagine the group's three choirs playing to each other from distant corners of a large cathedral or basilica. Two vocal pieces, a madrigal and a responsory for Holy Week (performed in reverse order from what was printed in the program), not surprisingly did not work quite as well.