Monday, March 14, 2011

Vox Lucens: Latin is not a dead language

Whoever composed that old schoolboy lament about the toxic inevitabilities of the language of Caesar was speaking out of school. That is to say, this guy, whoever this guy happened to be, besides a poor student, was dead wrong. Because, dig it, non latine lingua mortua est ubique, right? At least it seems like it, it seems like there’s been a whole lotta Latin going on lately — fun, fake (at least linguistically) and otherwise. Like Fujit Fiat Vox, a Renaissance-inspired a cappella group who lifted their name from the Vulgate Old Testament, having a little fun with the dead language, transforming let-there-be-light into let-there-be-voices. And Lux, the Port funk band whose name means “light” in Latin. And Primal Polyphony, an a cappella group that dipped its toes into medieval waters during a recent benefit for the Actors Studio. And now, crossing the Rubicon — musically, at least — and within shouting distance of the Ides of March, here comes Vox Lucens.

The ensemble will perform "Stories: Sacred and Secular" March 27 at the First Religious Society, using the beautiful music of mostly forgotten composers like Victoria, Morales, Guerrero, Palestrina and Flecha to light up sacred stories, like the discovery of the Resurrection or Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. But it's not all angry God and occasional miracles. The program will end with a few madrigals, including a humorous one that tells the story of a shipwreck, complete with cries for help, hasty prayers and a big old party after being saved (with guitar accompaniment) and, this being what it is, an appropriately pious moral. In Latin, natch.

Vox Lucens, whose name means "a shining voice" in the language that killed off all the Romans, is a 13-voice collective that came together 13 years ago to explore the Renaissance sacred and secular a cappella repertoire, lighting up the surprising variety of styles and textures of the Renaissance repertoire.

“Renaissance music has a magical quality — and not just as a figure of speech,” says Mary Briggs, one of the performers. “When we sing a cappella, somehow a beautiful new creation arises from everyday household objects like reasonable singing voices. In my mind's eye, each voice creates a liquid beam of sound with others to construct a magnificent cathedral of harmony."

The ensemble is led by First Religious Society music director Jay Lane.

Now if I could just remember the parisyllabic for third declension masculine nouns in ... 

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: Vox Lucens will perform "Stories Sacred and Secular" at 4 p.m. March 27 at the First Religious Society, 26 Pleasant St. A post-concert reception will take place in the Lower Meeting Hall. The performance is part of the Jean C. Wilson Concert Series. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors and free for students and kids. For more information, call 465-060 or log onto

No comments:

Post a Comment