From the press release:
The musicians of Northwest Art Song may usually -- appropriately, given their name and stated mission -- stick to the chamber song repertoire, but this year, they'll be closing their season with something a little different. May 2017 marks the 450th birthday of Claudio Monteverdi, who is arguably one of the most innovative composers in all music history, and these stellar singers will be marking the occasion with a birthday celebration!
So how did this concert come about? Northwest Art Song co-Artistic Director Arwen Myers, along with a collection of some of Portland's finest vocalists, sang a handful of Monteverdi's Book IV madrigals on 45th Parallel's Voice of Innovation this spring, and the need to present more of Monteverdi's music in Portland became obvious. After hearing an enormous amount of positive feedback about the madrigals from the both the audience and her fellow singers following that concert, she decided to mount an extra project this season to celebrate his incredible work.
And how does Monteverdi's music fit into the art song world? Although it's certainly not "art song," Myers doesn't think it's too much of a stretch. "While Monteverdi's madrigals are certainly not art song in the traditional sense," she says, "it's quite a natural fit for us. His text setting, or the way he expresses the meaning of the text in the music, is second to none, and the emotional content of both the words and the music is incredibly poignant. These pieces may not technically be art songs, but they exhibit so many of the things that make art song the incredible genre it is."
The concert will feature a collection of some of the finest vocalists in the Portland scene -- Arwen Myers, along with her fellow NWAS Artistic Director Laura Beckel Thoreson, will join with soprano Catherine van der Salm, mezzo soprano Emily Lay, tenor Chris Engbretson, and bass Aaron Cain. They will be joined by Seattle theorist John Lenti, who is a consummate musician often heard with Portland Baroque Orchestra and other early music ensembles in Portland and around the world. The program will focus on Monteverdi's madrigals from Book IV onward; we these mid- to late-career pieces best showcase his wholly unique compositional voice, in their sheer brilliance, are sure to excite and energize a wide Portland audience. The audience is invited to join the performers for a reception following the concert... and rumor has it that there may be birthday cake.
Northwest Art Song performs Monteverdi 450, Wednesday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Old Church Concert Hall. $5-20 advance, $5-$25 door. Available at http://www. brownpapertickets.com/event/ 2903940.