Announcing our new recording

cd71x-lucrezias-daughter-cover-lo-resWe are delighted to announce that our forthcoming CD, Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter, will be released on Obsidian Records early in 2017.  We are particularly pleased to be working with Obsidian, a label that has established itself as a leader in bringing together the highest standards of scholarship, musicianship, and production to their releases.  We hope that this is the beginning of an exciting and fruitful relationship!

Our research contributes to award-winning book

Eroticism in Early Modern Music (Routledge, 2015) - coverOh, we are so full of good news this week!  Shortly before the recording sessions, Laurie learned that a book she co-edited with the wonderful Bonnie Blackburn, Eroticism in Early Modern Music, has been chosen as Best Collaborative Project in the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women‘s 2016 awards. Both Laurie’s introduction, ‘Encoding the musical erotic’ and her contributed essay, ‘”Non è si denso velo”: hidden and forbidden practice in Wert’s Ottavo libro de madrigali a cinque  voci (Venice: Gardano, 1586)’ were informed by our research into the performance practice of Ferrara’s concerto di dame, and recorded on our 2002 disc, Dangerous Graces.  Laurie travelled to Bruges to accept the award during the meeting of the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, and then travelled more or less straight from Belgium to Cuddesdon, pausing at home only to swap suitcases and reorganise to accommodate the celebratory chocolate. Of course.

Recording accomplished!

Musica Secreta has just spent a week at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, recording motets from RISM 1543/2, Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata – thanks to development funding from Arts Council England, a generous grant from the Ambache Charitable Trustand our amazing Crowdfunder supporters.  Our fabulous Celestial Sirens joined us for a day, so not only were we able to make the most wonderful music with a group of committed and talented women, we were also able to catch up with old friends.  And we made new friends with the Cuddesdon Sisters, whose beautiful and inspiring chapel was the venue for our recording, and whose lovely new home was our lodging for the week.  We couldn’t have been made more welcome, and we couldn’t have chosen a better acoustic in which to record this special music.

We all felt that we were part of something truly special, and that the recording is only the start of a new attitude to Renaissance music.  As we never tire of telling people, nuns’ voices were the sound of the Renaissance city, accessible to every citizen, rich or poor, and a backdrop to both their everyday worship and their landmark ceremonies.  Look out for further updates and a release announcement!



Musica Secreta and Triora Musica join forces

In mid-July, Laurie and Deborah ran their first week-long course of female-voice polyphony, with optional morning yoga on the terrace, at Deborah’s house in Triora – part of Deborah’s summer workshop series Triora Musica.  The building, Casa Convento, is an ex-convent (very appropriate); participants (and tutors) stayed in well-appointed cells with views out over the Ligurian mountains. It was a lovely week, with heat, sun, thunderstorms, and breezes – and lots of pizza and prosecco after a hard day’s work. We kept cool in the afternoons by rehearsing in the town’s churches, including the tiny fourteenth-century church of San Bernardino, which nestles in the terraces below Casa Convento.

Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter

We are so proud of everything that has happened this weekend.  The concert at the Brighton Early Music Festival was intense and uplifting, and we have been overwhelmed by the immediate generosity of our friends, raising over £1000 in the first forty-eight hours of our crowdfunding campaign. Keep an eye on the updates on the campaign website, – we will be post news there as well.  We’ve joined Facebook and Twitter, too!

Almost there!

So, today, in order to help me deal with the excitement of tomorrow, I’m keeping busy finalising our crowdfunding page for a new CD of the materna lingua motets, and making a video to publicise the campaign. And counting habits. More soon!

Removing the veil

In some sixteenth-century convents – especially after the Council of Trent – the punishment for playing and singing polyphony was the ‘removal of the veil’. This entailed a loss of privileges, and a loss of voice in convent affairs, sometimes for as long as two years. You’d have thought that we had all been very badly behaved, since we seem to have lost our voice for quite some time.

But really, we’ve just had a project under wraps – oh, and Laurie had to finish the draft of her book.

But over the summer of 2015, things have been moving quickly. We were awarded some funds from Arts Council England for some intensive rehearsal, concentrating on the mysterious and extraordinary motets in the 1543 Motteta…materna lingua vocata. And now we are ready to bring them into public performance.

Next Saturday we will be having an unveiling of a different sort, as we introduce our new programme, Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter, at the Brighton Early Music Festival. It will be an evening of music by the established masters of the Ferrarese ducal chapel, and by the anonymous composer of the materna lingua motets, who we believe is none other than Suor Leonora d’Este (1515-1575), the only daughter of Lucrezia Borgia and Duke Alfonso I d’Este. The concert also marks the five hundredth anniversary of her birth. 

Are we excited? I think we are….

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