Sunday, January 25, 2015

Early Music Festival, Week One

Week One of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival begins right on February 1, with the return of Cantigium.  This eight-voice chamber choir, lead by Scot Buzza, performed last year for the Festival opening, and it was one of the most talked-about events of the month.  This remarkable group will sing some of the oldest extant music we have, both chant and polyphony: songs of the medieval troubadours, and songs sung by the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land; music from Poland’s greatest Renaissance composer;  some of the first music composed in the New World, by Spanish missionaries to Peru, in Quechua, the language of the Incas. And they will finish their tour through time by arriving at the German Baroque and singing a Motet by Bach.  That’s right, a motet by Bach.  He didn’t write many of them, and they’re rarely performed.  Don’t miss your chance to hear this one.

On Monday night Feb 2 at 8:00, CCM faculty members Rod Stucky and Mary Stucky will present a recital of music for lute, baroque guitar, and voice. Composers represented will be Nicolas Vallet, lutenist extraordinaire and neighbor to Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck; the English composer and lutenist, Robert Johnson; and Spanish composers José Marín, a defrocked priest, and Francisco Guerau, one of the finest guitarists of his time.
Tuesday Feb 3 is Live at Lunch, at Christ Church Cathedral downtown.  This week features The Shakespeare Band, with lute, Renaissance guitar, viola da gamba and voice.  They will play music from the English Renaissance.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are hosting a series of events around town called Music of the Renaissance. A viol trio of Catacoustic’s Annalisa Pappano and this year’s two early music scholarship recipients Stephen Goist and Cole Guillien will play music of Senfl, Isaac, Gibbons, and others. Two of these   events take place this week:  on Feb 2 at 7:00 at the Symmes Township Branch, and on Feb 7 at 2:00 at the Deer Park Branch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Third Annual Cincinnati Early Music Festival

The Cincinnati Early Music Festival is poised for launch!
February will once again resound to the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. For the third straight year we have an impressive lineup of events large and small, with something for every interest.

The Festival kicks off February 1, with the return of Cantigium, the chamber choir whose concert last year was one of the most talked about of the month. They will perform some of the earliest surviving music we have, sacred and secular, and rumor has it that they will repeat some of the most popular music from last year. Don’t miss this exciting event.

From a strong beginning, the month unfolds with an emphasis on variety. Lute and baroque guitar, recorder, harp, viola da gamba, harpsichord and organ, all will be in play.
And lots and lots more singing!  Tiny groups, like
  • Cantantes Camarae, singing Renaissance love songs, 
  • Consort in the Egg with sacred German music, 
  • the Vicars Choral's performance of an entire Spanish Renaissance Mass at Old St Mary’s.
 And larger groups, like 
  • the popular concert of many choirs at St Peter in Chains, 
  • the Knox Choir’s beautiful rendition of Heinrich Schütz.

And then there’s opera. If you discovered last summer how much you enjoyed Baroque opera, here’s your chance to sample quite a bit more. UC-CCM is staging two operas this month, one with their graduate students and one with their undergrads:  Monteverdi’s masterpiece L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Handel’s Alcina. And Cincinnati Chamber Opera is tackling Handel’s Ariodante.
We will wrap up on Feb 28 with an outstanding concert by Catacoustic Consort, the Festival’s sponsor. Truly rare sacred music by Jean-Joseph de Mondonville, one of the greatest French composers of the 18th century. Toronto-based soprano Shannon Mercer will join harpsichord and pardessus for a candlelight concert you won’t forget.  

Full details of these events and more are available at

Light up your winter with music!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Year for Catacoustic

2015 will be a landmark year for Catacoustic Consort. This autumn we will celebrate the opening of our 15th season in Cincinnati, making Catacoustic one of the most enduring small music ensembles in the Queen City. The audiences for early music continue to grow, as people begin to realize the astonishing breadth of music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras.

Some very exciting music is being planned for this year, French in February, English in March. And not JUST from the Baroque and Renaissance -- in April we will present a concert of new music for the viola da gamba, showcasing an eclectic collection of contemporary composers, including Michael Edwards (of Electric Light Orchestra), Elvis Costello, and Tan Dun. The incomparable Michael Maniaci will join us for music that you simply will not hear performed elsewhere.

Catacoustic has also been invited to play at the University of Dayton, a concert of music written by and for nuns of the 17th century, and which we will repeat here in Cincinnati next fall. And in December we will present a Christmas concert, complete with sackbut ensemble. 

As proud as we are of our season and the music we bring you, our mission extends deeper into the community. This February will be the third year we present the Cincinnati Early Music Festival, which allows audiences to hear the efforts of students, amateurs, and smaller groups, all dedicated to early music. 2015 will also be our fifth year to award a scholarship for musicians pursuing their interests in early music.

This winter the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is hosting a series of free events called Music of the Renaissance, sponsored by the James R. Hunt Trust Fund of the Friends of the Public Library. Artistic director Annalisa Pappano, in her role as pre-professional mentor, will be playing with both of last year’s scholarship winners, Stephen Goist and Cole Guillien, music for three violas da gamba by Senfl, Isaac, Gibbons, and others. (These concerts will take place at the Delhi Township Branch, January 26, 7pm; the Symmes Township Branch, February 2, 7pm; the Deer Park Branch, February 7, 2pm; and the Wyoming Branch, February 16, 6pm.)

The new theorbo is on the workbench. The Kroger Community Rewards program is going full bore (have you linked your Kroger card to Catacoustic yet? We receive a portion of everything you spend at no extra cost to you!) Plans are being made for well into the future. Thank you, Cincinnati, for watching us grow. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The holidays are already upon us, and if you are like me this year, you haven’t done ANY shopping for gifts… At least I can make a few recommendations to you, if you are looking for some musical gifts for the holidays!

I am in love with the fabulous French mystery series by Jean-François Parot (the Nicolas Le Floch investigation series). The pardessus scholar Dr. Robert Green recommended these to me, when I was looking to immerse myself in that period prior to Catacoustic’s recording last year. These books talked about the operas of Rameau and paint a picture of life in 18th-century France, mentioning hearing the latest opera by Rameau, as well as the realities of living without modern conveniences. And, they are suspenseful, thrilling books! They are available on Amazon.

I recommend Catacoustic’s recently released CD of music for the pardessus de viole, Le Secret de Muse. I am so proud of Joanna Blendulf and myself for completing this exciting and difficult project! Many thanks to Gregg Hill and Linda Holmberg for making this possible!! The CD is available through our website (, iTunes, and Amazon.

If you enjoyed Catacoustic’s September concert of Buxtehude’s "Membra Jesu Nostri," I recommend a recording by Les Voix Baroques, available through or on iTunes.

To prepare for our February concert of exquisite French music with soprano Shannon Mercer, I recommend a recording that actually inspired me to program this music with Shannon herself singing. It is available on Amazon or iTunes: Mondonville: Pieces de clavecin en concert avec voix or violon, opus 5.

Or, give the gift of an experience with concert tickets to an upcoming concert! Tickets are available at

Have a lovely holiday season!

Annalisa Pappano
Artistic Director

Monday, November 17, 2014

Eyes Only for Love

By the turn of the 17th century, around 1590-1610, the Italian Renaissance had been going strong for over a century. Art, architecture, literature, and music had grown mature and confident. Men were rich, institutions were well-established, and even girls got the occasional education. The old ways of doing things were starting to feel confining and outmoded. Questions were being asked.  

Today we call this period the beginning of the Baroque era. Geniuses like Monteverdi were experimenting with new musical forms, new combinations of instruments, and new subject matter. In fact, they were redefining what music was for. Music was assigned a new mission:  to tell a story, and to express the emotions of that story and evoke those emotions in the audience. 

Catacoustic’s next concert will visit this dynamic time in Italy. Tenor Sumner Thompson returns to town for an evening of passionate love songs that tell stories and express emotions with abandon.

1597 saw the birth of the ultimate story-telling music, opera. And when full-scale opera was just too much, another new form came to life, monody.  Monody is just a fancy word for what Bob Dylan does:  a solo singer, instrumental back-up, a story to tell.  But nobody did it like those Italians did it 400 years ago.

We’ll hear music of Sigismondo D’India, the Sicilian nobleman considered second only to Monteverdi in invention.  His passionate love songs illustrate the lover’s anguish with dissonances irregularly resolved; in chromatic, keening lines that delay their cadences until all the musical ends can be tied together; with joy for the drama of it all. And from touchy, troubled Giulio Caccini, whose book Le nuove musiche became the bible on the art of captivating and moving an audience.

The theorbo will also be featured.  It was a brand new instrument at this time, developed precisely for this new wave of operatic and semi-operatic story-telling.  Composers seized upon it at once—rarely has an instrument realized its potential so early in its life.  Bellerofonte Castaldi and Giovanni Kapsberger were two of the greatest of these, and we welcome back the great theorbist Daniel Swenberg to play this exquisite music. The combination of theorbo with Baroque harp, viol, and lirone is the classic sound of the era, and we'll revel in it tonight.

Since this concert will be of unusually high interest to opera lovers, we are making a special offer.  The time of the concert conflicts with Cincinnati Opera’s gala event.  We are therefore opening the dress rehearsal for Catacoustic’s concert with Sumner Thompson to supporters, so they can attend both.  Contact us at for more details.

 November 22, 2014, 7:30pm
Church of the Advent, Walnut Hills
2366 Kemper Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45206
There is ample street parking available, as well as available parking in the US Post Office lot just south of the church on Kemper.

 Individual tickets are $25 general, $10 student. Children 12 and under are always free. Tickets are available at the door, in advance by calling 513.772.3242, or at