Directed by Scott Metcalfe, Blue Heron (www.blueheron.org) is engaged in exploration of the vocal music of the Renaissance and Medieval periods. In addition to presenting a home concert series in Cambridge, and accepting touring engagements, it produces recordings, which it releases on its own label. The ensemble was founded in 1999.
Sean Gallagher on Ockeghem's "Fors Seullement l'actente" and its progeny
Professor Sean Gallagher, adviser to Blue Heron’s Ockeghem@600 project, introduces the seventh program in the series, featuring Johannes Ockeghem’s song "Fors seullement l’actente" and a number of pieces based on it, including three Mass movements by Ockeghem himself and works by Pierre de la Rue and others. Prof. Gallagher also discusses the other music on the program—the song "Je ne vis onques la pareille" (probably by Gilles Binchois) and music by Alexander Agricola and Johannes Ghiselin based on it.
Performing Late Medieval Music in The Modern Day
Episode 6 features a pre-concert talk by Scott Metcalfe given on February 3, 2018, in Cambridge. He discusses ideas about beauty and form presented in Robert Hass's A Little Book on Form (2017) and connects them to Blue Heron's work, pondering the issues raised by a 21st-century concert performance of a piece of late medieval music whose original purpose was to enhance a sacred liturgy.
Premieres of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks by Nicholas Ludford (c.1490-1557) and John Mason (c.1480-1548) and Variety and Expression in the Performance of 16th-century Music -- Pre-Concert Lecture by Scott Metcalfe
Episode 5 features a pre-concert lecture by Blue Heron's Music Director, Scott Metcalfe. In his lecture, given on October 13, 2012, before a concert in Cambridge, Metcalfe took on a number of interesting topics. He discussed the works that were about to be given their North American Premieres (Ludford's Missa Inclina cor meum and Mason's Ave fuit prima salus), the history of the Peterhouse partbooks (which is the sole source of those pieces), why Blue Heron approaches this repertoire the way it does and finally "why music from the 16th century should be as captivating, varied and expressive as music from any other age." The lecture was supported in part by the Cambridge Society for Early Music.
The Ludford and Mason works discussed in this lecture were recorded shortly after the premiere performances in October 2012, and will soon be released commercially on Blue Heron's own label, as Volume 3 of a planned set of 5 Peterhouse Partbooks recordings (BHCD1004; RELEASE DATE: October 2013). The disc will contain the world premiere recordings of all the music on the CD.
Divine Songs (featuring music of Johannes Ockeghem (c.1420-1497)) -- Pre-Concert Lecture by Sean Gallagher
Episode 4 features a pre-concert lecture by Sean Gallagher, Visiting Associate Professor of Music (Musicology and Ethnomusicology) at Boston University. In his lecture, given on March 2, 2013, Prof. Gallagher discusses the brilliant 15th-century composer of vocal polyphony Johannes Ockeghem and his contemporaries, focusing in particular on the cultural and theological world in which they lived. The lecture was sponsored in part by the Cambridge Society for Early Music.
Music from the Age of El Greco and Velázquez: Pre-Concert Lecture
Episode 3 features a pre-concert lecture by Dr. Douglas Kirk. All the music is from the live performance following the lecture, featuring Blue Heron, the Boston Shawm and Sackbut Ensemble, and the Blue Heron Violin Band. Recorded in April 2008. This episode sponsored by the Cambridge Society for Early Music.
Music of John Taverner and William Byrd: Pre-Concert Lecture
Episode 2 features a pre-concert lecture by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Professor Teresa Neff. All the music is from the live performance following the lecture. Recorded in September 2007. This episode sponsored by the Cambridge Society for Early Music.