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….

And the winner is…

booty Yesterday the winners of the Engage Competition (run by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement) were announced at an awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum.  Laurie won the Individually-led Project category with Celestial Sirens!  We are so very proud of, and grateful to, every one of the Sirens, past and present. The award is a wonderful recognition of the investment that the choir has made in working together with us. There is still a great deal of work to do, and music to be sung, and we are all eager to get started on new recording projects this summer.

The judges said, “Deeply embedded in on-going cycles of research, the project brought the research alive for all the participants – whether other researchers, festival goers, performers, authors, readers, or music lovers.”

How lovely!


A week for good news

This week have been full of good news for Deborah and Laurie. We first learned that Brighton Early Music Festival had received its Arts Council grant for 2014, which is a huge achievement for Deborah and the rest of the BREMF team. Then, Laurie was notified that Celestial Sirens has helped her to the final of the Engage Competition 2014, which recognises national excellence in public engagement with research. Saying we’re excited about this is an understatement! We are so proud of all our colleagues, and the hard work is paying off now.

A Christmas wonder and a sad goodbye

Celestial Sirens brought another first to St Michael’s Southampton last night with a performance of Cipriano de Rore’s Christmas Vespers – a work that has not been heard in modern times.  But, given the news of the death of Nelson Mandela, the choir wished to mark his passing with an appropriate tribute – so we began the concert with the hymn N’kosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.   There was a lovely stillness in the church, as if the bustle and busyness of Christmas was put on hold for those few moments – we were all grateful!

Welcome to Musica Secreta

We have a new web page!  And with it, a new blog.  We’re hoping this will make it much easier to update our friends with news of concerts, workshops, talks, and projects.

July has already been a busy month for our directors: Deborah has been teaching at the Tallis Scholar Summer School at Uppingham, and will soon be off to Seattle for the Summer School there.  Laurie has been in Certaldo, near Florence, giving a paper on Cipriano de Rore’s madrigals for the theatre, at the Conference for Medieval and Renaissance Music, and will soon be back at the convent of the Poor Clares at Crossbush for some peace and quiet in which to write.

Lots of activity for the singers, too: Before Deborah disappears to Seattle, Musica Secreta will have an exploration day, singing through some of the anonymous convent motets from Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata (1543) – hopefully as the first step to recording these astonishing pieces. Celestial Sirens gave a short concert at St Michael’s, Bugle Street, Southampton, on 9 July as the opening event for the Knowledge Exchange and Arts and Humanities Research Conference.  It was unbearably hot, but the Sirens took it in their stride.



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