His Majestie's Clerkes and the Orpheus Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

His Majestie's Clerkes and the Orpheus Band 

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Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672) has never been a household name, even though he's widely acknowledged by musicologists as the greatest German composer before Bach. Chief among his innovations were the introduction of Italian madrigal styles to northern countries and the use of German texts instead of Latin ones in liturgical music. Schutz almost didn't become a composer; as a young man he pursued an education in law. But several trips to Venice, where he studied composition first with Gabrieli and later with Monteverdi, convinced him (and his patrons) that he was not cut out for a legal career. So he settled down in Dresden, where as town kapellmeister he produced the bulk of the work on which his reputation rests. Prolific--as most kapellmeisters were contracted to be--he wrote numerous vocal settings of sacred texts in which he showed a keen dramatic sense. He also composed the first German opera. In this rare Schutz sampler, a joint venture by two highly regarded early-music specialists, His Majestie's Clerkes and the Orpheus Band, representative works from almost all of his major vocal genres will be performed. Included are Psalmen Davids, Symphoniae Sacrae, Kleine geistliche Konzerte, and his majestic concertato motets for double and triple chorus. Notable among the guest soloists are countertenor Drew Minter and soprano Patrice Michaels Bedi, who both sing with eloquence and drama. Saturday, 8 PM, St. Luke's Church, 939 Hinman, Evanston. Sunday, 8 PM, Church of the Ascension, 113 3 N. LaSalle; 549-2969 or 708-866-7464.

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