October 2, Sunday, 7 pm
St. Ignatius Church, Šv. Ignoto St. 6
Music as a catcher of souls (II)
Disclosing the musical treasures of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Chioggia
Olga Pasichnyk – soprano, Poland
BREVIS CHOIR AND CONSORT
Musical directors: Stefano Rossi (Italy), Darius Stabinskas and Gintautas Venislovas
“While out catching souls, the Lord uses every available net” – such were the lines by St. Philip Neri (1515–1595) in one of his letters to the Pope in the mid-16th century on the power of music. Rephrasing the words of the Gospel “from now on you will catch men”, this Italian priest had an enormous impact on the development of religious music in Italy. His activities led to the foundation of the Oratory, a congregation of priests, which later gave rise to the name of the widely known musical genre itself.
Ordained in 1551, Philip Neri instigated the establishment of a community in Rome which started out as informal meetings between laypeople and priests. When the groups became too large, other priests offered their help, which the laypeople called oratorios (due to the eloquence of the prayers, from the Latin orare – to pray). In 1575, Pope Gregory XIII officially recognised the Congregation of the Oratory, which became one of the most important religious institutions in Rome until the end of the century. Today, there are 77 Oratories uniting around 600 priests. A community of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri was also established in Vilnius in 2008.
During the meetings of Philip Neri’s communities, music was always prevalent. Laudi (Italian spiritual canticles in the vernacular whose texts came from Late medieval mysticism) were sung as part of the everyday exercises at the Oratory, while on Sundays and feast days during mass services (known as oratorio vespertino) or after vespers, professional religious works would also be performed. Laudi also became so commonplace because religious texts were performed to melodies of popular lay songs, and thus reflected Philip Neri’s “naïve” political spirit. “So that the being might come closer to Jesus, Philip used music. It was invoked as ‘a catcher of souls’”. During the meetings, there were readings from the Holy Bible and sermons which were indispersed with music. By the end of the 16th century, only one sermon remained, leaving more time for music before and after – this eventually paved the way for the form of the main 17th century oratory as a musical genre – a two part composition with a pause in between for the sermon. The earliest compositions classified as oratorios appeared in the collection of work by Giovanni Francesco Anerio Teatro armonico spirituale di madrigali (Rome, 1619) which was created specifically for oratorio vespertino prayers. This was how the special musical legacy of the Oratory at the turn of the 16th-17th centuries was formed, and was popularised by the most famous composers of the age. Among those who wrote music for the Oratory’s needs or who were responsible for the development of its music were Italian composers Giovanni Animuccia, Giovenale Ancina, Francesco Soto de Langa, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Spaniard Tomas Luis de Victoria, and others. An especially important role in the realisation of this idea of St. Philip Neri belongs to Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who was loyal to Philip and his established Oratory community; for a period, Palestrina even served as the Oratory’s Direttore della Musica.
This concert will continue the presentation of music from the musical archives of the Chioggia Oratory (the first music programme from the Chioggia Oratory performed by the Brevis Choir and Consort in 2010 has already been recorded on CD). With the closure of the oratory in Venice, its priests transferred to Chioggia in 1752 where the wife of a Venetian doge had donated a palace. These priests took along the rich musical collections of the Venice oratory, the manuscripts of which have survived to this day. A significant part of the collection comprises of works by the renowned Venetian composer and musical leader of St. Mark˙s Cathedral, priest Giovanni Croce (born, as it happens, in Chioggia). Of his sacred motets, “Popule Meus” for the Good Friday liturgy is a stand out piece and is performed here using interpretative diminution (ornamentation) practices of the time. The works of Baldassare Galuppi, a famous opera writer and also maestro di cappella at St. Mark˙s Cathedral, only one century later, are represented by Sinfonia and “Credo”. Also transcribed from the manuscripts at Chioggia are cantatas by one of the most famous composers of the early 18th century, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, “Confitebor tibi Domine” and “Laudate pueri” for soprano, choir and orchestra.
Olga Pasichnyk was born in Ukraine. She studied piano and musical pedagogy in her native Rivne, and later voice at the Kiev Conservatory and at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. In 1992 she became a soloist of the Warsaw Chamber Opera.
She has sung with great success major soprano roles in the operas of Monteverdi, Gluck, Handel, Mozart, Weber, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, Debussy and Tchaikovsky, as well as roles by contemporary composers throughout most of Europe, in Australia, Canada, Japan and the US. Olga Pasichnyk has performed in numerous concerts and international music festivals and in famous concert halls and theatres, including Opéra National de Paris - Opéra Bastille, Palais Garnier, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Théâtre Châtelet, Salle Pleyel (Paris), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Berliner Konzerthaus, Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid), Bayerische Staatsoper, and has collaborated with world renowned orchestras, ensembles and conductors.
Olga Pasichnyk is a prizewinner of numerous competitions, some of which include the International Vocal Competition in s’Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands, 1994 - II prize), Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition in Helsinki (Finland, 1999 - II prize) and The Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition (Belgium, 2000 - III prize, Special Oratorio Prize and Public Prize). She twice received the Fryderyk (the highest Polish phonographic award) for the best solo recordings of 1997 and 2004, the Orfeusz (Warsaw Autumn Festival prize) in 1999, and the Golden Cross of Merit of Poland (2001), as well as A. Hiolski’s prize for the best female opera role of 2004 (Melisande in Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande with the Polish National Opera). In 2005 she was nominated as the best opera singer of 2004/2005 for her role as Almirena (Handel, Rinaldo) by the international opera magazine Opernwelt. In 2006 she was awarded a Münchner Opernfestspiele prize.
Olga Pasichnyk has recorded 45 CDs and DVDs for different labels including Dabringhaus und Grimm, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos and Opus 111.
Stefano Rossi graduated cum laude in baroque violin at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where he studied with Lucy van Dael, also participating to the classes of Alfredo Bernardini, Bob van Asperen and Wouter Möller.
He collaborates with groups such as Accademia Bizantina, Cappella della Pietà dei Turchini, L’Estravagante, Musica ad Rhenum, Zefiro, Camerata Anxanum, Ensemble La Fontegara, Al Ayre Espanol, Xacona, and Estro Armonico. He has also played first violin as part of the Brevis Consort’s projects for several years.
He recorded the complete collection of chamber music by Francois Couperin with Musica ad Rhenum, with L’Estravagante – Musikalische Ergötzung by Johann Pachelbel, and – with the Zefiro Ensemble – Vivaldi’s Concerti per più strumenti and Mozart’s divertimenti. He has also recorded for Naive, Stradivarius, Decca, Ambroyse, Virgin Classic, and the main European radios.
He plays an instrument made by Henry James in London in 1740.
Darius Stabinskas studied cello with Rimantas Armonas at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and the viola da gamba with Roberto Gini at the Scuola Civica di Musica in Milan; he attended early music courses held by Andrew King (Great Britain), Albert Hartinger (Austria), Rinaldo Alessandrini, Diego Fratelli and Edoardo Bellotti (Italy).
Darius Stabinskas collaborates with various European early music performers and collectives, and is invited to take part in various international projects. The artist has organised and implemented several early music projects, dedicating much attention to upholding Lithuania’s early music legacy by rescuing many of the Lithuanian nation’s important yet unheard music opuses.
He has been the artistic director of the Banchetto Musicale early music festival since 2003, and Brevis Consort since 2006.
Gintautas Venislovas, a graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music, has taught choir singing and conducting at the Ąžuoliukas Music School and has worked as choirmaster and conductor with the Vilnius municipal choir Jauna Muzika. He has composed a number of songs for children’s choir and compositions for mixed choir and has made many orchestral arrangements of popular music.
In 1993, Venislovas took over as artistic director of the Brevis Choir, which came into being in 1990. In 1996, Brevis was named absolute winner at an international choir competition in Slovenia, having won the Grand Prix there, and Venislovas was awarded the prize for best conductor. Over the next few years, the choir received a number of first prizes at international choir competitions and in 2003 won the European Grand Prix, the highest prize awarded to Europe’s best amateur choirs. In 2009 in Italy, the collective received the Guidoneum prize for its recent years’ artistic activities and the development of choir singing traditions in Lithuania and Europe.
The Brevis Choir has appeared in a number of European countries and in Japan, and appears with Lithuania’s finest collectives: the Lithuanian State Symphony, the Lithuanian National Symphony, the St. Christopher, as well as other chamber orchestras. The group has released over ten CDs with works from various eras and genres.
The Brevis Consort was founded in 2006. The collective’s artistic director cellist Darius Stabinskas, having returned from his studies in Italy in 2001, decided to devote himself to early music and the nuturing of the historical musical heritage of Lithuania. Establishing the Baltic States Baroque Orchestra and the ensemble in the same year, he started closely cooperating with one of the most vibrant chamber choirs existing in Lithuania at the time, Brevis. After several projects, the two collectives combined and changed their name to the Brevis Choir and Consort, and arranged one of the most monumental early Baroque masterpieces – Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin.
In recent years, the collectives have arranged many important programmes, including Dietrich Buxtehude’ cantata Membra Jesu nostri, Orazio Vecchi’s Amfiparnaso, a programme of works by composers from the Jesuit “Collegium Germanicum”, the programme of Italian madrigals from the manor estate of the rulers of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the concerto “Marco Scacchi: A pupil and a master”, heard by a large audience of Euroradio listeners, and Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio “San Casimiro – Re di Polonia”, performed at the opening of the Baroque dialogues program.
The Brevis Consort also appears in concerts as an independent collective. In addition to several Lithuanian musicians, there are also professional early music artists from the other Baltic States, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and other European countries, while depending on the programme being performed, the ensemble’s composition may vary from two to twenty, or more performers.
The Brevis Consort has appeared in the Banchetto musicale festival on many occassions, presenting non-traditional programmes and performing works that have never been heard before in Lithuania. One of its most significant projects is director Gintaras Varnas’ production of Claudio Monteverdi’s madrigal operas Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Ballo delle Ingrate, both of which have earned excellent reviews from the public and critics alike.