The Collegium Musicum Fordhamense had its first pop-up performance, “Voices of English Praise,” on Thursday March 8 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. The concert included anthems by Thomas Tallis, polyphonic hymns by William Byrd, and Latin chants to the Virgin.
The Collegium is a creative initiative from the Center for Medieval Studies and Music Department. Directed by Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, formerly of Anonymous 4, the Collegium meets with the goal of exploring and presenting medieval and early modern music, informed by current research on historical performance styles. The group consists of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff, both vocalists and instrumentalists.
The performance opened with the monophonic “Miserere,” a Latin chant from the 13th-century Dublin Troper manuscript (Cambridge University Library MS Add.710).
The chant was followed by selections of early modern English music, including anthems by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), composer of sacred polyphonic music for Tudor monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. This lively take on “Oh Lord in Thee Is All My Trust” features Christina Vilar on recorder and Meghan Kase on cello.
In the words of one of Collegium’s organizers, Professor Andrew Albin:
Eric [Bianchi] and I started Collegium after team teaching our Medieval Studies graduate course, ‘Cultures of Music and Sound in the Medieval World.’ We realized there was interest — much more than we’d anticipated, as it turned out! — and real artistic and intellectual rewards in a group like this one. Collegium is as much about experimenting with medieval music, figuring out how it works, and how it works best, as it is about performing this rarely heard, beautiful repertoire. It’s is also a revival: Fordham had an early music ensemble all through the ’80s under the direction of Dr. James Kurtz, now at Juilliard. Eric and I agreed that it seemed the right time to breathe new life into group, especially with Jacqui Horner-Kwiatek at the helm — we couldn’t have dreamed of a more ideal music director!