Boston Camerata Offers Biting Musical Commentary for the Election Season
“City of Fools: Medieval Songs of Rule and Misrule” explores age-old themes of justice and corruption
October 22, 2016, 8pm | First Church in Boston
Only days before Americans go to the polls, the Boston Camerata, fresh from touring in Brazil, France, and Germany, will open its new Boston season on October 22 with a musical op-ed on power seekers and ugly politics.
“City of Fools: Medieval Songs of Rule and Misrule” a new program directed by Anne Azéma, explores age-old themes of justice and corruption as told through ancient minstrel songs. Satirical works from medieval France, Provence, and Germany provide a sharply-etched and astonishingly contemporary perspective on our own nation’s current travails. The concert will reflect on the folly of misrule with musical commentary on the state of politics in the thirteenth century.
“City of Fools” features medieval song texts which contain severe criticisms of temporal power and bad rulers. Commentary, occasional praise, and frequent derision are woven into the songs as reflections of those who seek and exercise power.
“We hope that hearing how corrupt rulers were mocked in the thirteenth century will give us some perspective on the twenty-first,” says Boston Camerata Artistic Director Azema. “There will be laughter, hopefully, but also some serious reflection on the nature of justice, all within a context of beautiful and rousing music.”
Boston Camerata’s virtuoso musicians include long time collaborators Shira Kammen on vielle and music director emeritus Joel Cohen on lauta and voice. Christa Patton, harp and winds, will be making her first appearance with the Camerata, and tenor Jordan Weatherston Pitts, who sang the title role in the ensemble’s acclaimed Play of Daniel in 2014 will return as a featured soloist. Young professional musicians from the Longy School of Music of Bard College will round out the ensemble.
The concert will include five sections with songs of the great Provençal troubadour and satirist Peire Cardenal, as well as pungent excerpts from Carmina Burana and the Roman de Fauvel. “Be prepared for a surprise or two along the way!” concludes Azéma.
More information about the program sections:
A World Gone Mad
In which we discover that “sanity” and “madness” are, perhaps relative terms… A powerful, existential satire by one of the greatest troubadours, Peire Cardenal (1180-1278), a Provençal cleric and moralist who transformed tender love songs into razor-sharp polemics against human folly.
It’s Good to be the King!
Long live the King! May he be young, courteous, and valiant! But kings may, or may not, be up to their tasks. Some lie, some cheat. Some drink to excess, or obsess on sexual pleasure. Some are power-mad and abuse their people. And the best king of all, laments the troubadour Bertran de Born (1140-1215), has left us; we shall not see his like again.
Abusers may also abound in the world of religion and the church. Money collected from the poor and dying, influence-peddling and bribery even at the court of the Pope — the fox has entered into the henhouse! Where is truth? Songs by Marcabru (1110-?), Guilhem de Figueras (ca. 1230), and Anonymous (including excerpts from the Carmina Burana, 12th c.).
An Offer You Can’t Refuse – Is the Cosmos Just?
“Fortune, empress of the world, your wheel turns, inexorably, casting some up and throwing others down.
Creator of the Universe, I did not ask to be put here! How can you hold me responsible for a universe I did not create? Put down the demons, and show mercy!”
Works from the Carmina Burana (12th c.), and by Peire Cardenal (1180-1278).
An Election-Year Surprise at the end of the concert
Tickets for “City of Fools: Medieval Songs of Rule and Misrule”:
Saturday October 22, 2016 at 8PM
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough St. Boston, MA
Tickets are general admission and are $25-$55
Discounts are available for students and groups of 10 or more.
MBTA: Green Line to Arlington
About The Boston Camerata:
The Boston Camerata ranks among the world’s oldest and most eminent early music ensembles. Founded in 1954, Camerata has been under the direction of French-born singer and scholar Anne Azéma since 2008.
Camerata’s musical performances are well known for their blending of spontaneity and emotional commitment with careful research and scholarship. With its distinguished roster of singers and specialists in early instruments, Camerata produces an annual concert series for audiences in the Greater Boston area. The Boston Camerata tours regularly in the US and around the world, last appearing in Paris at the Theatre de la Ville, in Treviso, Italy, as well as in Sao Paolo, Brazil, at the Alcântara Festival, and Strasbourg, France, at the Voix et Routes Romanes Festival.
The Camerata’s many recordings (Grand Prix du Disque, 1989) as well as its numerous media appearances (2 prizes at FIFA Montréal, 2014, 1 prize at the 2014 Massachusetts Film Festival) and its educational projects including residencies at the Longy School of Music and MIT have brought its work to audiences in every continent.
“clarity…zest…excitement” – The Boston Globe