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Songs of Love and War

Saturday, March 2nd at 7:30 pm
Alix Goolden Performance Hall

Doors open at 6:45PM

Pre-concert talk at 7:00PM

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Marc Destrubé, violin and artistic director

Kathryn Wiebe, violin

Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba

Christina Mahler, cello

Antoine Malette-Chénier, harp

Marco Vitale, harpsichord, organ and vocal director

Celeste Lingas, soprano

Jayne Hammond, soprano

Cassidy Stahr, alto

Carson Moore, countertenor

Adam Dyjach, tenor

Tim Carter, tenor

Louis Dillon, bass

Jordan Rettich, bass


This concert will feature selections from Claudio Monteverdi’s eighth book of “madrigals” (‘Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi’), published in Venice in 1638 when he was seventy-one years old. They represent a significant evolution in musical style, in which Monteverdi sought to express a new emotion in music. Earlier composers had only conveyed two of man’s three major passions, the soft and the moderate; a third passion, agitation (‘stile concitato’), was missing in his view.  For this program, the festival instrumental ensemble will be joined by a select group  of emerging young singers, specialized in this beautifully expressive music.


View of the Rialto Bridge by Canaletto

A View of the Rialto Bridge by Canaletto

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643)
Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi  (Venice, 1638)

      Canti Guerrieri (Songs of War)
      Sinfonia, a doi violini et una viola da brazzo
      Altri canti d’Amor, a 6 voci con quattro viole e doi violini
      Hor ch’el ciel e la terra / Così sol d’una chiara fonte viva, a 6 voci con doi violini
      Gira il nemico insidioso, a tre voci alto tenore e basso
      Volgendo al ciel per l'immortal sentiero e Ballo a 5 voci
      Ardo avvampo, a 8 con doi violini


     Canti Amorosi (Songs of Love)
     Altri canti di Marte / Due belli occhi, a 6 voci e doi violini
     Non havea Febo ancora / Lamento della Ninfa
     Perché t’en fuggi o Fillide
     Su su pastorelli vezzosi
     Vago augelletto, a 6 et 7 voci con doi violini e un contrabasso
     Dolcissimo uscignolo, a 5 voci, cantato a voce piena, alla francese


The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers remains a priority. We recommend patrons take precautions of reasonable comfort.

This concert is generously supported by

Turnham Woodland and Pep Groos Fund for Vocal Music 



Single Tickets: $30 + tax & fees and $25  for Seniors/Students + tax & fees

Purchase tickets by clicking here.

Festival Passes: $100 + tax & fees and $80 for Seniors/Students + tax & fees are also available for purchase here. 

VCM Box Office: 250-386-5311

Welcome to our musical journey inspired by the captivating compositions of Claudio Monteverdi. Tonight’s program explores the themes of love and war through Monteverdi's timeless compositions. The focus will be drawn from his Eighth Book of Madrigals (published in 1638), which is dedicated to Ferdinand III of Habsburg, Holy Roman Emperor.



Jonathan Glixon is a prominent figure in the field of musicology, known for his distinguished research. Notably, his investigation into a 17th-century anonymous letter to Venetian State Inquisitors accusing Claudio Monteverdi of treason has gained significant recognition. This document, unearthed in the nineties, claimed that Monteverdi expressed a desire to replace the symbol of St Mark in the Venetian piazza with the Habsburgs' double-headed eagle. While the accusation may seem implausible, Glixon's work illuminates Monteverdi's artistic connections with the House of Austria.


Glixon's contributions also include the discovery of a previously unknown source revealing Monteverdi's renewed association with the Austrian Habsburgs in the early 1630s. This finding is particularly significant as it sheds light on a sparsely documented period in Monteverdi's career and offers fresh insights into the circumstances surrounding the dedication of Monteverdi's Eighth Book of madrigals.


The study is based on a letter from Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II in December 1633. This letter is found in a manuscript containing copies of correspondence involving Ferdinand II, his wife Eleonora Gonzaga, and his son Ferdinand III. The letter is a short recommendation addressed to Cardinal Infant Ferdinand, a member of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. Glixon's research focuses on the connections between music, politics, and historical context, providing insights into Monteverdi's relationships and the socio-political dynamics of his era.


In this letter dated 19 December 1633, Ferdinand II, possibly influenced by his Mantuan wife, seeks Cardinal Infant Ferdinand's assistance for Monteverdi in a legal matter with Cardinal Pietro Campori, the Bishop of Cremona. The aim is likely to secure favorable treatment for Monteverdi in a pending case related to obtaining a Cremonese canonry. A crucial factor supporting this connection is Monteverdi's recent entry into the priesthood the year before, possibly to enhance his eligibility for a canonry.


In 1633, it is likely that Monteverdi presented compositions - most probably the madrigals of the Eighth Book - to Ferdinand II. Although the Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi were not published until 1638, with a dedication not to Ferdinand II (who died in February 1637) but to his son and successor to the imperial throne, Ferdinand III, Monteverdi's dedication to Ferdinand III explicitly suggests that the elder Ferdinand had received the madrigals in manuscript form. In the dedication, Monteverdi expresses that Ferdinand II, "the great Father of Your Majesty, deigning with his innate kindness to accept and honour your written works, has granted me almost an authoritative passport to entrust them to the press." This dedication indicates Ferdinand II's permission for the composer to publish the works.


A proposed earlier dating of at least some contents of the Eighth Book to 1633 aligns precisely with the period Monteverdi claimed to Giovanni Battista Doni to have been working on his treatise on the seconda prattica. This style, opposed to prima prattica, is characterized by the expressive and emotionally charged use of dissonance, prioritizing textural and harmonic innovation over strict contrapuntal rules. A fragment of this treatise appears tantalizingly preserved in the composer's preface to the Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi. Moreover, various pieces of evidence suggest that parts of the Eighth Book were known in Vienna well before its formal publication in 1638.


It appears that the genesis of the Eighth Book was similar to that of Schütz's Symphoniae sacrae II (1647): both collections were initially presented to a patron in manuscript form and subsequently augmented and revised for publication. It is likely that Monteverdi sent the Eighth Book, or some of its parts, to Vienna around 1633.


Crucially, the fact that Monteverdi sent madrigals to the imperial court by 1633, coupled with the knowledge that the initiative for transmitting the book came from Monteverdi himself and not Emperor Ferdinand II, makes it less likely that Ferdinand II commissioned the Eighth Book to celebrate his son Ferdinand III's coronation as King of the Romans in late 1636.


This revised earlier timeframe for sending at least a portion of the Eighth Book to Vienna holds significant implications. The late 1620s and early 1630s marked a period of close artistic collaboration between Mantua and Vienna. Empress Eleonora Gonzaga, Ferdinand II's wife since 1622, exerted substantial artistic influence at the court, particularly in opera and ballet. Ferdinand II's letter of recommendation explicitly references Monteverdi's "lengthy, outstanding services" in this context.


The composition of Monteverdi's Eighth Book of madrigals, once associated with Habsburg patronage, is now viewed as possibly unrelated to a 1636 coronation order from Ferdinand II. The letter suggests that Monteverdi may have sought Habsburg support for personal reasons. It's worth noting that Monteverdi modified some of the madrigals, adapting them as a homage for the coronation of Ferdinand III. The distinct qualities of the compositions may reflect artistic connections between Monteverdi, Mantua, and Vienna, emphasizing the composer's evolving artistic thought rather than strict Habsburg patronage.

STILE CONCITATO or “agitated style.”


I have reflected that the principal passions or affections of our mind are three, namely, anger, moderation, and humility or supplication… The art of music also points clearly to these three in its terms "agitated," "soft," and "moderate" (concitato, molle, and temperato). In all the works of former composers I have indeed found examples of the "soft" and the "moderate," but never of the “agitated.”

(Claudio Monteverdi, preface to the Eight Book of Madrigals, Venice 1638)

Monteverdi developed the musical style of stile concitato to represent the human emotion of agitation. He considered “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda”, one of the pieces from Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi, to be the first instance of stile concitato. It is represented by the rapid repetition of sixteenth notes.  We can find other examples of in “Hor ch’el ciel e la terra” and “Altri canti d’Amor”, which will both be performed tonight.

In a detailed introduction to his Eighth Book, Monteverdi shares insights into the genesis of the term "stile concitato.” Drawing from philosophical influences such as Plato and Boethius, who emphasized the impact of music on character, Monteverdi remarks, "I have committed substantial effort to rediscover this style." He observes that while contemporary musical expressions effectively conveyed love and passion, they struggled to articulate their opposites: anger, disdain, and grief. The Eighth Book of madrigals, divided into sections exploring love and war, embarked on a journey to unveil an entirely distinct musical style, capturing the entirety of human emotions with a distinct focus on physicality.




The opening madrigal in the collection (and also in tonight’s program) is "Altri canti d'amor" (Let others sing of Love). It opens with a sinfonia for two violins, bass viol and continuo announcing a classic amorous theme: the four descending notes of the passacaglia, used at the time for countless love songs including "Lamento della Ninfa.” The singers conclude the section with the phrase, "When one single thought joins two souls," culminating in a unison.. The subsequent section delves into a portrayal of war, utilising the stile concitato, where instruments and voices vividly depict various war elements.

After this splendid warlike section for six voices and two violins, the bass, accompanied by all the strings, presents ‘this work still green and new’ to ‘gran Fernando’, referring to Ferdinand III, the Holy Roman Emperor, to whom the entire collection is dedicated.


Hor che 'l ciel e la terra”, is one of Monteverdi's most exquisite and spectacular madrigals.

Based on Sonnet 164 from Francesco Petrarch's Canzoniere, the madrigal is divided into two parts.

The text depicts a lover at war with himself; unable to sleep even when the sky and earth are silent, only the thought of the beloved woman could bring him peace. Monteverdi's music evokes various emotional states: the stillness of the night, pain, inner struggle, anger, sorrow, and ultimately, resignation. The beginning is mysterious, emphasising the tension of anticipation; it then transitions to a more distressing section (thinking, suffering, crying) and one in stile concitato with rapid repetitions on the word “war”. The second part is more sentimental and dramatic and concludes peacefully, while at the same time expressing resignation.


Within the Eighth Book, Monteverdi identifies three compositions characterised as 'in a theatrical manner.' One such piece is “Volgendo il ciel", initially conceived as a dance composition. It adapts a text by the Florentine poet, Ottavio Rinuccini, originally crafted in praise of Henry IV, and modified here to pay homage to Ferdinand III, the dedicatee of the print, who ascended to the position of Holy Roman Emperor in 1637. The solo tenor, taking up the lyre, directly addresses Ferdinand, urging the listeners to join the nymphs of the Istro (Danube) in their dance. The instrumental ensemble plays the ritornelli between each verse, and the full singing ensemble joins in “Movete al mio bel suon”. According to Monteverdi's indication, another dance should be performed between these sections, “such as canario or passo e mezzo, or another dance, as desired, without singing.”


Ardo avvampo” unfolds as a magnificent musical panorama portraying the unquenchable flames of love, meticulously crafted for an ensemble of eight voices accompanied by two violins and continuo. The initial stanza builds upon a robust pedal note on G, providing a solid foundation, while fervent cries and invocations intensify in a crescendo as the number of voices gradually expands. As the composition reaches its epilogue, a gentle descent occurs, leaving only two voices. The music delicately fades away, culminating in a nearly inaudible final note struck in unison. Inescapable love, portrayed through Monteverdi's masterful composition, is accentuated by the poignant lyrics of the two tenors concluding in unison, singing "lascia, che 'l cor s'incenerisca, e taci" — acknowledging that, when dealing with an unquenchable fire, the only option is to let the heart burn and stay silent.


Altri canti di Marte” (Let the others sing of Mars”) serves as the contrasting bookend to the composition heard at the beginning of this program. This time, Monteverdi immediately invokes Mars, setting Marino's text in a sequence of interconnected episodes. The initial episode builds a robust section, narrating 'the bold assaults' and 'bloody victories,' followed by a more subdued passage delving into the true theme of the poet - love’s impact on our human senses. Notably, this madrigal features extensive homophonic sections, where voices share rhythmic material in parallel chords. This technique creates a rhetorical effect, fostering a sense of unity in both the first and second person, allowing the ensemble to embody a unified narrative voice.


A uniquely crafted triptych unfolds with two trios ("Non havea Febo ancora" and "Si tra sdegnosi pianti") framing the poignant "Lamento della Ninfa" (Amor, dov'è la fé) in the Genere rappresentativo (a style of music designed to represent and express the emotional content of a text through vivid and theatrical musical means). According to Monteverdi's own note, the Lamento must be performed "in the tempo of the soul's emotions and not that of the hand" — suggesting a departure from strict metronomic measures, and instead following the rhythm of the emotions conveyed by the words. In contrast, the trios sung by the two tenors and bass must adhere to the "tempo of the hand." This exemplifies the seconda prattica, where harmony (or music) gracefully serves as a companion to speech (or poetry). Amidst a persistent descending tetrachord, reiterated in the bass a staggering thirty-four times and spanning the entire length of the Lamento, the protagonist's (soprano) sorrowful cry ascends, echoed in chorus by the male voices reminiscent of ancient Greek theatre. Rinuccini's poetry gains substance and tragic emphasis through this relentless repetition of the tetrachord. The protagonist, expressing her unhappiness, prominently emerges in the first person against the backdrop of voices empathetically commenting on her plight. The passacaglia’s unwavering bass, in its nearly mechanical recurrence, underscores the diversity, now even dissonant, of the vocal accents.


The canzonetta "Su, su, su pastorelli vezzosi" presents ample opportunities for artistic choice, whether involving alternating voices and instruments, voices alone, polyphony, or instrumental episodes. There is no singular "right" answer, as these pieces can be performed in various ways.


Dolcissimo uscignolo” is scored for five voices with basso continuo, and is sung a piena voce, alla Francese (in full voice, in French style). It alternates between solo and tutti sections, as indicated in the separate partbooks.

The precise derivation of ‘canto alla francese’, which Monteverdi also applied to settings in his Scherzi musicali (1607) and his Confitebor No. 3 from the Selva morale e spirituale (1640-1641), is still uncertain, though it seems to apply both to a manner of singing, with full voice, and to a melodious musical style characterised by clear-cut phrase-structures, alternation between solo voice and full ensemble, and the setting of single syllables to pairs of notes


Note by Claudio Monteverdi to the Lamento della Ninfa:

“Modo di rappresentare il presente canto:
Le tre parti, che cantano fuori del pianto della Ninfa, si sono così separatemente poste, perché si cantano al tempo della mano; le altre tre parti che vanno commiserando in debole voce la Ninfa, si sono poste in partitura, accio seguitano il pianto di essa, qual va cantato a tempo de l'affetto del animo, e non a quello de la mano.”


“Method of presenting the current song:
The three parts singing outside the lament of the Nymph are so separately arranged because they are sung in the tempo of the hand. The other three parts, which softly sympathise with the Nymph, are published in full score so that they follow her lament, which should be sung in the tempo of the emotions of the soul, and not that of the hand.”

Marco Vitale


Parking Information

Alix Goolden Hall is located at 907 Pandora Ave.

Patrons must enter the venue from 900 Johnson St.

The VCM parking lot is reserved for staff and faculty at all times. Street parking and public lots are available within short walking distance.


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 The Magnolia Hotel provides Festival audience members with a special rate during the Festival: a 15% discount on the best available room rate.


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