Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014 part 28

Fabulous Fringe Concert: Cantores Santi Gregorii

From the fringe concert by les Elizées (see part 27), I hurried back to the Tivoli-Vredenburg building for another fabulous fringe concert. As I wanted to sit down in my preferred area, a volunteer kindly warned me. The choir was going to stand with its back to that part of the Grote Zaal

So I selected a seat on the opposite side, close to the stage. A lady joined me and we started chatting. It turned out she knew the festival’s director. From what she told me, the current director had had dreadful plans to change the fringe concerts.

If ever he carries out his plans, it will mean the fringe concerts will no longer be open to all and sundry – public-wise, of course. Now these concerts, both the ordinary and the fabulous fringe concerts, are still free of charge with musicians allowed to collect money from their audiences at the end of each concert. So these concerts form an excellent non-elitist chance to introduce early music as well as classical music to a large audience.

But – with all the bloopers this year, it did not surprise me the present director of the Early Music Festival would damn the fringe concerts and their fans. So many good things of this Early Music Festival already seemed to have been lost since the move from the Pandhuis to Tivoli-Vredenburg: in less than 12 months. So: one more act of wrecking this festival would fit in nicely with the mess it seemed to have become.

While waiting for the Cantores Sancti Gregorii to fill the stage, I noticed one of the people who had been involved in starting up this festival. I idly wondered how it must feel to witness something splendid you have created out of nothing to be turned into something focussed on commerce and musicians who have already made it big. Though I doubt he would be informed that something which had run like clockwork for decades, now sported at least two bloopers a day.

All this was forgotten and I was transported to heaven once the Cantores Sancti Gregorii started to sing the Missa de Venerabili Sacramento. This ensemble was one of the outstanding ones I heard during the fabulous fringe concerts. This was an impressive rendering of the Missa written by Josquin des Prez somewhere during the late 15th and early 16th century. Music which once was heard in churches throughout Europe.

Like the rest of the audience, I was totally spellbound. Whether this was a first introduction, or one was totally familiar with this kind of religious music: nothing mattered anymore, as long as the plain chant composed by des Prez centuries ago, dazzled through space.

Such concerts by musicians, who once started performing in the fringe concert circuit of this festival, were a real treat. These concerts were one of the main reasons to visit the Early Music Festival each year. But once these musicians would become well-known, get a contract, reach the level of the Huelgas Ensemble and this year’s artists in residence (Ars Antiqua Austria) – ahhhh! Then tickets for their concerts would no longer be within the reach of many in this audience, who enjoyed their performance so much.

Early Music Festival Utrecht 2014: Cantores Sancti Gregorii, 5th of September 2014, 12:30, Tivoli-Vredenburg, Grote Zaal.

Cantores Sancti Gregorii:
Maria Bayley and Esther Kronenburg superius
Isaal Alonse de Molina altus
Jan Janovcik tenor
David Alonso de Molina and Bram Trouwborst bassus

Cantores Sancti Gregorii are on Facebook. For info on the Missa de Venerabili Sacramento: Josquin des Prez


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