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Preparing to Hear Masterworks

Spring 2023: April 11-May2
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30 pm
UVMC Bach Room
painting of a quartet

Spring 2023: Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610

Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin) of 1610 comprises a singular masterwork by a composer whose pathbreaking operas lent impetus and shape to the “new practice” of Italian Baroque music. Upper Valley Baroque will present two performances of this work during the last weekend of April; this class will offer a framework for understanding and appreciation of it.

In some key respects, the Vespers is enigmatic. It is a sacred work by a court composer renowned for his secular compositions who sought, and ultimately secured, a position as music director in a church. It is replete with pioneering techniques—highly ornamented vocal lines, piquant dissonances—about which conservative church leaders were skeptical; and it applies those techniques to polyphonic textures based on plainchant, the centuries-old foundation of Catholic music liturgy. It includes five psalm settings (each based on a chant model) and several “sacred concertos”—motets demonstrating Monteverdi’s mastery of the latest compositional strategies. There is no record of any performance during Monteverdi’s lifetime; there is uncertainty surrounding the motivation for its composition.

During our seminar sessions, we will consider the parallels between Monteverdi’s operas and the Vespers. We will examine the deft manner in which the composer has incorporated psalm chants into his textures. We will marvel at the ingenuity underlying the “sacred concertos.” And we will savor the innovations with which Monteverdi infused the work’s concluding tour-de-force, the Magnificat.

No prior music experience is necessary (though such experience is welcome!). There will be four Tuesday afternoon sessions; the last of the four will take place after the performance weekend, and thus will afford us an opportunity to discuss what we noticed at the concerts.

Ages: Adults
Length: 4 weeks, 2 hour classes
Cost: $110 (No cost to UVMC individual lesson students enrolled in full 16-week term)
Minimum Enrollment: 5
Faculty: Mark Nelson

Tuition Assistance

We believe that everyone, no matter their financial resources, should have access to high quality music education. Click here to learn more about available resources and how to get financial support.

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Payment plans of 2 or more payments are available by contacting the office or for group classes via online registration. Learn more about Tuition, Fees, Discounts, and Payment plans here.

UVMC Calendar

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Offered in Partnership with OSHER at Dartmouth