La Morra debuts in U.S. with “Tears of a Lion”
Houston Early Music welcomes Swiss early music ensemble to Texas
HOUSTON, TX – Swiss early music ensemble La Morra will visit Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m., as part of its first U.S. tour, which will take it to six cities across the country. The 12-year-old group will present “Lacrime di Leo (Tears of a Lion): A Secret Concert for Pope Leo X” on Houston Early Music’s season, treating audiences to little-heard gems from the early Italian Renaissance.
Mainly known for his extravagant lifestyle financed by the sale of indulgences — indeed, it was these that prompted Martin Luther to open protest — Pope Leo X (1513-1521) loved the arts, especially music. So sensitive to music was he that he was observed by a composer named Carpentras to weep “pious tears” when listening to religious polyphony.
A member of the famous Medici family of Florence, Leo X was raised in an atmosphere of humanism and artistic appreciation, and he both played and composed music. He also surrounded himself with a select group of musicians known as the musici segreti (secret musicians) who played only for him, and those lucky enough to be invited to these private performances.
“With our program we would like to evoke an atmosphere of such a private performance,” said La Morra co-director Michal Gondko. “Although our choice of repertory is hypothetical, we have cast our net wide to draw as many true gems as possible from the extraordinarily rich musical culture of the early Italian Renaissance.”
Included on the program are works by many composers whose names may be little known to the general public. A wide range of offerings will be presented by the likes of Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Benedetto Gareth, Sebastiano Festa, Francesco da Milano, Juan del Encina, Guglielmo Ebreo and Nicolas Craen. “Those men composed some of the most extraordinary music of their time,” said Gondko, who researched the program at the venerable early music academy Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle, where La Morra resides.
Listeners will hear madrigals, chansons, frottole and instrumental pieces performed on instruments of the period. Performers include Gondko (viola da mano, chitarrino and drum), co-director Corina Marti (flutes), Ryosuke Sakamoto (lute), Tore Eketorp (viola d’arco) and Giovanni Cantarini (voice). The secret musicians may even debut a “new” chanson by Leo X, who famously said, “Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it!”
La Morra will present “Lacrime di Leo (Tears of a Lion): A Secret Concert for Pope Leo X” on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main St., Houston, Texas 77030. A pre-concert talk with members of La Morra will begin at 6:45 p.m.
Exploring history through music is a Houston Early Music hallmark. The group follows music from the Middle Ages through the 18th century, providing unique programming and world-class concerts performed with historical instruments and styles true to the period.
For more information about Houston Early Music and to purchase tickets and subscriptions, please visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 713-432-1744.
CALENDAR EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
What: LA MORRA, Swiss early music ensemble, on its first U.S. tour
Program: “Lacrime di Leo (Tears of a Lion): A Secret Concert for Pope Leo X,”
Where: Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main St., Houston TX 77030
When: Friday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. | Pre-concert talk with La Morra at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets: $35 general admission | $30 Seniors (60+) | $10 (students w/ student ID)
Available online at www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org or by calling 713-432-1744.
Presented by: HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC
Description: Swiss early music ensemble La Morra will visit Houston as part of its first U.S. tour. Houston Early Music presents the ensemble in a program titled “Lacrime di Leo (Tears of a Lion): A Secret Concert for Pope Leo X.”
HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC presents the world’s finest period ensembles and soloists who bring to life music from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the Baroque and Classical periods. One of the country’s leading early-music organizations, it is the city’s only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms. The nonprofit provides performance opportunities for up-and-coming and major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series, and their educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org.
Photo: La Morra. Photo credit: Susanna Drescher.