Rock Stars post-concert reflections

rockstars-web-graphic-300pxby CRSP journalist, Kenzie Love

The Calgary Renaissance Singers and Players marked the successful conclusion of another season with “Rock Stars of the Italian Renaissance,” performed April 12, 2014. Artistic Director Jane Perry praised choristers for their engagement in the music, lauding the performance as a milestone in her three-year tenure with the CRSP.

“This was the best concert we’ve done together since they hired me as a conductor,” said Perry, “and it was really gratifying to see them looking up, see them having fun, see them feeling confident about their music. And that translated into the sound, I thought.”

Choristers echoed Perry’s assessment.

“I think that we’re getting better at following Jane because she’s a very precise conductor,” said soprano Marcia Epstein, adding: “She’s wonderful to follow. Her whole face, her whole body gets into the conducting.”

Alto Brandis Purcell agreed preparing for the concert was lots of work, but made for “a real feeling of accomplishment.”

Palestrina presents a mass to Pope Julius III

Palestrina presents a mass to Pope Julius III (Wikimedia Commons)

“For me as a chorister, it was fun,” she said. “I love Palestrina, absolutely love Palestrina. He is the rock star, I think, of the Renaissance. Anything by him is a delight to sing, especially when you’re singing together. It makes you feel like part of a whole.”

Indeed, the concert was a collaborative effort from start to finish, with choristers suggesting many of the featured songs. Epstein wore two hats, composing and performing in a new madrigal, “Dopo la pioggia,” while soprano Racheal Cogan both sang and played the recorder in her debut concert with the choir. A small group of choristers also danced to Gastoldi’s “Amor Vittorioso.”

“It really took a village to put this concert together,” said Perry.

Following last winter’s “The English Invasion of the Sixties… the 1560s!” the concert continued the CRSP’s recent efforts to attract a broader audience with themes such as “Rock Stars of the Renaissance” and “Renaissance Meets Jazz.”

The coming season, in turn, will celebrate music of the last 50 years inspired by the spirit of the Renaissance.

“I’m always looking for new angles that might bring in people who otherwise would never come to a concert of Renaissance music,” said Perry. “I think a lot of people when they think of music of the Renaissance, they think of it as being stuffy and too intellectual and not accessible at all.”

“Rock stars of the Italian Renaissance,” however, showcased a more lighthearted side, even with serious works such as the Tu Es Petrus mass (the title a play on the Latin word for both “Peter” and “rock”). The concert also featured some “naughty” pieces such as Orlando di Lasso’s “Tutto lo di” in which a man bluntly tells his lover “I’d like you to be beneath me.”

“I liked the naughty ones too,” said Purcell. “When you consider having a mass and naughty songs together in the same program… But if there is a God, she created us as human beings in all of our many facets.”

While the choir’s twists on traditional Renaissance music have sought to appeal to the broader community, Perry says longtime fans have also appreciated the change of pace.

“I guess part of my programming ideas are to try to keep our regular members on their toes as well. Present things they know in different ways and in different contexts just to keep it fresh. And I think that’s part of the Renaissance ideal as well, trying new things, trying old things in new ways.”

April 12 Concert: Dopo la pioggia, by Andreini

The Calgary Renaissance Singers and Players will be performing a new composition by Marcia Jenneth Epstein in our upcoming concert this Saturday. The lyrics and inspiration for this work arise from “Dopo la pioggia,” a poem by Isabella Andreini (1562-1604), an Italian actress and writer. Come experience the first live performance of this work at our “Rock Stars of the Italian Renaissance” concert April 12, 2014. Epstein will also deliver the pre-concert talk at 7pm. The image below, an excerpt from our concert programme, shows the Italian lyrics and English translation.


April 6-7 Mozart’s Requiem

Two of CRSP’s former artistic directors, Jean-Louis Bleau and Malcolm Edwards, are leading the 2 choirs featured in this upcoming Calgary event:

Present ‘REQUIEM’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sunday, April 6, 8pm, 2014
Monday, April 7, 8pm, 2014
St Gerard’s Roman Catholic Church, 8944 Elbow Dr SW, Calgary, AB (Directions)

More information & tickets:

April 12 concert: meet Racheal Cogan

photo by Sandrine Bretaud

photo by Sandrine Bretaud

The Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players is delighted to welcome recorder player Racheal Cogan to its concert stage on April 12, 2014, when she and Alan Jessop will perform recorder duet works by Salamone Rossi and Arcangelo Corelli. She has graciously stepped in for our original guest artist Scott Blair, who had to bow out of the concert due to unforeseen circumstances.

Racheal Cogan has toured extensively as a performer with people and organizations as diverse as Ross Daly (based in Greece), and Cirque du Soleil for their shows Zaia and Totem. Her educational background ranges from a music degree in performance and ethnomusicology at Monash University in Australia to individual periods of study in India, France, The Netherlands, and Greece, all funded and supported by organizations including The Australia Council for the Arts, Asialink and The Ian Potter Foundation.
She co-founded the Greek music group the haBiBis, whose second CD, Intoxication, won an Australian Recording Industry Award in 1999. Racheal has led and participated in many recording projects including a duo CD with Australian percussionist Tony Lewis called Transience.

She is currently focused on composing and recording new works as well as performing with the Rembetika Hipsters in Calgary.

You can hear her at

Rock stars of the Italian Renaissance – April 12

rockstars-web-graphic-300pxThe Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players invites you to our next concert, featuring works by Palestrina, Monteverdi, Gastoldi and others:

“Rock Stars of the Italian Renaissance”
Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 7:30pm, with a pre-concert talk at 7:00pm.
St. Stephen’s Anglican Church (1121-14 Ave SW)

Tickets $20 reg, $15 student/senior, under-18 free. Ticket Inquiries:

Purchase tickets from members, at the door, or online via Brown Paper Tickets

Director’s message

Ah, spring! As the snow ebbs away, the first flowers of the season bravely shoot up through the greening grass. The birds return with their mating songs, and, let’s face it, love is in the air. What better time for the

Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players (CRSP) to delve into Italian madrigals of overt flirtation — the Renaissance equivalent of the construction worker’s whistle at the pretty girl walking by?

We invite you to celebrate spring with us at the next concert in our “Rock Stars” series: “Rock Stars of the Italian Renaissance.” Continue reading

The English Invasion of the ’60s… the 1560s! — Dec. 7 concert

Calgary Renaissance Singers and Players -1560s concert poster

Click image to enlarge

Consider this: in the 1960s, four talented fellows from Liverpool, England shot to national and then international rock’n’roll stardom under the unlikely group name The Beatles. Despite a lack of formal musical education, the songwriting duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney understood how to touch people’s hearts and inspire their imaginations.

Four hundred years earlier, in the 1560s, England’s “rock stars” were formally educated church musicians. Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, and Orlando Gibbons were household names. Like Lennon and McCartney, these men understood how to touch people’s hearts with their music. As with many present-day rock stars, our 1560s music heroes had their ups and downs. Tallis and Byrd made and lost a fortune together in music publishing. Byrd in particular ran into trouble with the law of the church, in that he had Catholic sympathies at a time when Catholicism was banned in England. Meanwhile, Orlando Gibbons shocked his friends and admirers by dying young, in another foreshadowing of some rock-star lives today.

Our upcoming concert will focus on music by Tallis, Byrd and Gibbons, with a nod to more recent English music heroes Gustav Holst, John Rutter, and, yes, The Beatles. Our arrangement of “Blackbird” was created by a member of another 1960s upstart English group: The King’s Singers. With guest pipe organist Timothy Pyper contributing his own musical genius to our concert, this will be an event you don’t want to miss.

This concert will be in part a fundraising event for Calgary’s National Music Centre, which lost part of its historical keyboard collection in the June flood. In the spirit of the season, please bring your chequebook and help this valuable community organization find its footing again.

Saturday, December 7 at 7:30pm
pre-concert talk at 7:00pm
Hope Lutheran Church
3527 Boulton Rd. NW, Calgary (map)

Ticket purchase options

Best regards,
Jane Perry
Artistic Director, Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players

Alberta Foundation for the Arts Calgary Arts Development       UnitarianChurch-Thanks

St. David’s Christmas Carol Festival – Nov. 29

St. David’s United Church, Calgary, presents

A Christmas Carol FestivalChristmas image

An evening of seasonal music and carol singing featuring:

  • University of Calgary Chorus
  • Sir Winston Churchill High School Choir
  • Calgary Renaissance Singers
  • St. David’s United Church Sanctuary Choir

Friday, November 29 @ 8pm
3303 Capitol Hill Cres. N.W. [Google map]
Admission is free, but donations to the Food Bank are gratefully accepted.
View/Download PDF

Online ticket purchase now available

Calgary Renaissance Singers and PlayersCalgary Renaissance Singers and Players is now offering online ticket purchases. We have partnered with Brown Paper Tickets, a company serving many events organizations in Calgary and beyond.

Our upcoming concert:

The English Invasion of the Sixties… the 1560s!

Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm
Pre-concert talk at 7:00 pm
Hope Lutheran Church
3527 Boulton Road, off Northmount Drive NW

For more information and ticket purchase, go to the 2013-2014 Season page.