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Twin Peaks: EMG presents Sine Nomine

November 5, 2009

Twin Peaks

Sine Nomine: “The Two O’s: Ockeghem and Obrecht” on Sunday, November 8th, at 7:30pm, Trinity Parish Church, 609 Eighth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.  Sine Nomine is a Community Collegium sponsored by the Early Music Guild. Free will offering at the door.Jacob Obrecht

Before Bach, there was Monteverdi; before Monteverdi, Palestrina; before Palestrina . . . ? Gary Cannon would like to propose as candidates “the Two Os.” On November 11 his a capella ensemble Sine Nomine performs works by two of the 15th century’s greatest, Johann Okeghem and Jacob Obrecht. Both were able to fuse the high renaissance passion for intricate cerebral form and passionate musical expression. “Okeghem for example composed a mass setting which can be sung in any church mode,” says Cannon, “where the same written notes can be performed using four different ‘scales’. But instead of being just a counterpoint exercise, the emotional effect of each version is different; one solemn and mournful, another peaceful and calm, just through the different placement of a few half- and whole-steps.”

Though you wouldn’t know to look at him, Obrecht was a more emotional, heart-on-sleeve kind of composer, but he wasn’t above hiding little signals of his skill in places where only other composers might notice them. In a motet written to celebrate the dedication of a new church building, one of the plainchant melodies supporting the text was originally set to words from Jacob’s vision in the book of Genesis, where the patriarch sees the entrance to “the house of God, and the gate of heaven.” – Roger Downey

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