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Schütz: the Traveller

Friday, March 18, 2022, at 8 pm (doors open at 7 pm)
Alix Goolden Performance Hall

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The Traveller_edited.jpg



Marc Destrubé, director

Kathryn Wiebe, violin

Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba

Marco Vitale, harpsichord & organ

Jeremy Berkman, sackbut

Robert Fraser, sackbut

Katrina Russell, dulcian

Isolde Roberts-Welby, soprano

Alana Hayes, alto

Clayton Butler, tenor,

Rowan McWilliams, bass


Schütz enjoyed two extended stays in Venice, studying with Giovanni Gabrieli, and later coming under the influence of Claudio Monteverdi. This program will include instrumental music by some of the Venetian composers he would have heard and mingled with, as well as his own compositions in the Italian style. Venice at the time enjoyed fine brass players, and the festival is pleased to include two sackbuts (early trombones) as well as the dulcian (early bassoon) in the festival ensemble.


Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672)
from Sinfoniae Sacrae I, Op. 6
Domine, labia mea aperies, SWV 271

Dario Castello (1602-1631)
from Sonate concertate in stil moderno, libro primo (1621):
Sonata Nona for two violins, dulcian and basso continuo
Sonata Quarta for violin, sackbut and basso continuo

Massimiliano Neri (1621 - 1666)
Sonata Quinta à 4, op. 2

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 -1643)

from Scherzi musicali 

De la bellezza le dovute, sv 245 

Damigella tutta bella, sv 235

Giovanni Gabrielli (1557 - 1612)

from Canzoni per sonar a quattro 

Canzon seconda, ch. 187 

Canzon quarta, ch. 189 

Ricercar dell’Ottavo tono

Lodovico da Viadana (1560 - 1627)
from Cento concerti ecclesiastici
O bone Jesu
Canzon Francese in risposta

Biagio Marini (1594 - 1663)
from Affetti musicali, Op.1
Sonata La Foscarina à 3 con il tremolo

Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672)
from Sinfoniae Sacrae I, Op. 6
Fili mi, Absalom, SWV 269


This concert is generously supported by

Olive Olio's Pasta & Espresso Bar

and Russell Nursery 


The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers is of paramount concern. Please see below to read the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's safety while enjoying the concert:

  • Please wear a mask at all times when inside the building.

  • Please allow for 2 meters distance between parties when moving to or from your seat.

  • Please do your best to exit promptly at the end of the concert.

  • Proof of vaccination and valid ID is required for persons aged 12 and older to access this event.


There was a great deal of musical crossover between Italy and Southern Germany throughout the
16 th and 17 th centuries. Italian musicians took posts in German courts and churches, and composers
from all over Europe traveled to Italy to study with the masters. Such were the circumstances of
Heinrich Schütz’s (1575-1672) first sojourn in Italy. A talented musician from a young age, he
received financial backing from his patron to study with Giovanni Gabrieli, then the most
prominent composer in Venice, from 1609 until 1612. There, Schütz received a thorough education
in counterpoint and the Italian vocal tradition, both of which he would skillfully integrate into his
compositions. In 1628, the turmoil of the Thirty Years war pushed Schütz to make another trip to
Venice. Once there, Schütz sought introductions to the leading Venetian composers. He forged a
close connection with Claudio Monteverdi and credited him with expanding his musical

Schütz’s Venetian visit culminated with the 1629 publication of Symphoniae sacrae I, a collection of
sacred concerti for solo voices with obbligato instruments and continuo. The works in the collection
are characterized by their graceful melodies and varied use of harmonic and instrumental colour.
Domine labia mea aperies is notable for the prominent, extended instrumental sinfonia sections, all of
which are based upon the same opening motif. The closing piece of this program, Fili mi, Absalon, in
which King David cries for his dead son, alternates instrumental sinfonias with vocal sections. These
vocal sections begin accompanied only by basso continuo, but when David repeatedly cries his son’s
name, the instruments join him with grand and melancholy descending figures to highlight his

Though details of the life of Dario Castello (1602-1631) are scant, his influence on the
development of instrumental music was great. Unusually for the time, he specified which
instruments should be used in his scores. He wrote extensively for the sackbut at a time when the
instrument, a precursor to the modern trombone, was only beginning to enjoy widespread use, and
his writing for bassoon was notably virtuosic. Castello’s works, including the Sonate concertate in stil
modern (published in 1621) from which both of tonight’s sonatas are selected, were widely
propagated and reprinted even after his death, which was also unusual at the time. His sonatas are
characterized by their division into three or four clearly indicated contrasting sections, and his work
formed the bridge between the earlier conzona style of Italian instrumental music of the 16 th century
and the emerging sonatas of the 17 th century.

Massimiliano Neri (1621-1666) was the son of an Italian musician who held positions in several
German courts throughout his lifetime, and Neri himself would hold positions in both Italy and
Germany, embodying the close ties between each region’s respective musical traditions. His Opus 2,
published in 1651, was influential in the development of the sonata. His scoring was particularly
innovative, as he combined bowed and plucked string instruments with woodwinds, in this case
scoring his Sonata Quinta à 4 for violins, trombone/sackbut and bassoon/dulcian.

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), today the most well-remembered Italian musician of the 16 th and
early 17 th centuries, was equally renowned in his lifetime. Monteverdi’s first major post was at the
Gonzaga court in Mantua, where he had access to virtuosic singers for whom he wrote complex
madrigals whose publication and dissemination to other European courts would drive his
international reputation. In 1613, he was appointed as maestro di capella at St. Mark’s in Venice,
arguably the most prestigious musical church post in all of Europe.

Monteverdi’s reputation for innovative and masterful vocal polyphony was heightened in 1600 when
his madrigals were attacked by a conservative musical theorist who derided Monteverdi’s use of
dissonance as crude, improper, and licentious. Monteverdi waited until 1607 to respond directly to
these critiques. His first book of Scherzi musicali, literally “Musical jokes,” included a manifesto to
modern Italian music, which emphasized text and expressivity over traditional formal rigidity.
Ironically (and perhaps as part of the musical joke), the Scherzi are more conventional than his
madrigals, and are characterized by a strophic, homophonic texture and relatively tame harmonies.

Before Monteverdi, Giovanni Gabrieli (1555-1612) was the most renowned composer in Venice.
He spent part of his early career in Munich, before returning to Italy and taking a post as organist at
St Mark’s Cathedral. St. Mark’s had a long musical tradition, boasting three organs, double choir
lofts and access to excellent musicians, which gave Gabrieli the opportunity to write for diverse
performing forces. The late 16 th century also saw the rise of purely instrumental music not based
upon a particular dance or accompanying a texted work. The two canzoni being performed today are
representative of this new genre of contrapuntal instrumental music emerging in Italy, of which
Gabrieli was the foremost master. Originating from French chansons arranged for keyboard or
instrumental ensemble, canzoni have a light, sprightly character, and relatively simple contrapuntal
texture. The ricercar (literally, “to search out”) was born from the tradition of instrumental

improvisation. Even as composers began to write out their works for publication, the ricercar did not
lose their free, improvisatory nature or become constrained by rigid formal structure.

Though Lodovico da Viadana (1560-1627) does not seem to have made it quite as far as Germany,
he nevertheless travelled widely within Italy as part of his work as a Franciscan friar. His primary
legacy was his contribution to the development of music notation. He created a more readable
notation for basso continuo, which was emerging as the leading type of accompaniment during this
era. With his Cento concerti ecclesiasti (1602), from which O bone Jesu is selected, he became the first
composer to include a basso continuo part in a published sacred vocal work, though he did not
invent this practice. His Canzon Francese in riposta divides the instruments into two distinct pairs to
create a call-and-response texture.

Biagio Marini (1594-1663) was a violinist at St. Mark’s during Monteverdi’s tenure, and later held
various court posts throughout Italy and Germany. His sonata La Foscarina, from Affetti Musicali Op.
1 is a substantial work with multiple contrasting questions. It is notable as the earliest surviving
notated instance of tremolo, in which a player (in this era, usually of a bowed string instrument)
creates a shimmering effect by rapidly repeating a single note.


Single Tickets: $30 + tax & fees  and $27 for Seniors/Students + taxes & fees

Purchase your ticket by clicking here.

Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.​


Parking Information

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.




 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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