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The Art of Sprezzatura

How to be a Professional Musician in the 1590's

Bruce Dickey - cornetto

Catherine Motuz - renaissance trombone

Joëlle Morton - viola da gamba

Catalina Vicens - keyboard instruments


Our week-long course will center on acquiring and perfecting the skills required in singing and playing ensemble music of the late Renaissance and Early Baroque. We will focus on the improvisatory nature of much of this music, learning to improvise counterpoint (alla mente), diminutions on melodic lines, and solo ricerari. We will discuss and practice the embellishment of single and multiple lines in a polyphonic texture and examine how the diminution practice of the 16th century transitioned into an effective use of ornaments in the early 17th century. We will also look at other concepts which were part of the musical culture of the 16th century and were thus a part of the education of every musician and singer: tactus, proportion, grace and sprezzatura, unequal articulation, imitation of the human voice, etc. We have assembled a faculty with remarkable performance experience and special expertise in these areas as well as on their instruments.

Catherine will focus on improvisation alla mente and the extemporizing of ricerari, Bruce on diminutions and the imitation of the human voice, Joëlle on ensemble embellishment and improvisation “alla bastarda”, Catalina on the use of keyboard instruments in ensemble music, and we will all collaborate on coaching ensembles and playing together with them.

The course is aimed at students and young professionals. We are looking for a group of up to 12 students on voice, cornetto, trombone, recorder, violin and viola da gamba family instruments and keyboard. Other instruments are also possible. Come to beautiful Nova Scotia and enjoy a unique opportunity to work intensively on a repertoire which is often given too little attention. There will be student, faculty and joint performances.

Dates: March 25 - 31

Tuition: $500