Chansons & Motets from the
Court of King Janus of Lusignan
With traditional music.
ALKEMIE MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE
The Cambridge Society for Early Music (CSEM) will launch its first concert this season with a very special program: medieval music from the French royal court in Cyprus in the early 15th century. The music comes from a grand manuscript of major importance, the Torino Codex, filled with hundreds of sacred pieces and courtly chansons about love (of course), all unique and anonymous. The collection is tied to the royal court of Cyprus, an outpost of French culture in its final flowering, around 1411 to 1422, during the reign of King Janus of Lusignan and Queen Charlotte of Bourbon. This was a golden moment on the eve of a series of disasters that brought the idyll to an end. The music is highly sophisticated, full of subtle complexities and artful refinements, fiendishly difficult to perform and seldom recorded, but easy to listen to. The medieval ensemble Alkemie will bring this precious music to life. In addition to three enchanting sopranos whose voices blend silkily, there will be a colorful band of instruments, with vieles, harp, recorders, douçaines and percussion. One spectacular piece, played by instruments alone, is a virtual explosion of virtuoso acrobatics. Some rousing Greek and Cypriot traditional music will suggest what the French aristocrats might have overheard when passing through the countryside, where the population was mainly Greek peasantry. The performers are Tracy Cowart, Elena Mullins and Sian Rickett, David McCormick and Niccolo Seligmann. See their website at www.alkemie.org.
Tickets at the door (cash or check): $35 | seniors & Salem Athenaeum members $30 | students $10. Prepaid tickets through CSEM’s website, www.csem.org (surcharge applies).
Information: 617-489-2062. Reception follows.