Friday, December 9, 2011

The Camerata's gonna get medieval on your holiday

... and speaking of cool holiday music, the kind probably won't be subliminally torturing you in elevators or department stores,the Boston Camerata is about to get all medieval on your holiday. Just back from a tour of northern France and Belgium in November, the early music group will perform “A Medieval Christmas,” a program of song and poetry from France, Provence, England, Spain and Germany performed by a virtuoso consort of voices and instruments, including harps, vielle, lute, recorder and flute. Selections range from a very early Hebrew chant and 10th century Spanish Sybill’s prophesy to 12th-century Aquitanian (French) tales of the Wild and Foolish Virgins, to 13th- and 14th-century English and 15th-century Dutch songs. Program notes include contemporary English translations of the texts and lyrics, much of which will be quite familiar to the audience.The only north of Boston performance will take place at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at First Parish Church, 20 High Road, Route 1A, Newbury. The performance will be recorded by WGBH for a commercial release ... well, as commercial as medieval music gets.

Founded in 1954, Camerata has been under the direction of French-born singer and scholar Anne Azéma since autumn, 2008. Director emeritus Joel Cohen, Azéma’s husband, who led the Camerata for over 40 years, still performs with the group. The couple lives in Amesbury. Azéma, who first heard the Boston Camerata’s recording of “A Medieval Christmas” in 1974 in her native France, researches and edits the repertoire, frequently transcribing it from its original sources. She also tours and records as a vocal soloist, lectures, teaches master classes, seminars and residencies and has created and directed a major music-and-theater work, “A Night’s Tale” as artist-in residence at the Arsenal of Metz in France. In September 2010, she was honored by the government of France as a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, a principal distinction of the French Republic. “A Medieval Christmas” was originally conceived byCohen, in 1974, with subsequent revisions by Cohen and Azéma.

Tickets are $35, are available at the door or by visiting or calling 866-427-2092.

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