VoXX Summer Concert: “Madrigals and More”

Posted April 29, 2013, at 4:27 p.m.

Friday, June 21, 2013 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Location: First Baptist Church, 95 High Street, belfast, ME

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Camden, Maine: For Immediate Release

Media contact: Dominic Paul Mercadante

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VoXX Presents 10th Annual Spring/Summer Concerts: “Madrigals and More”

The midcoast a cappella vocal ensemble VoXX: Voice of Twenty will celebrate the arrival of the 2013 summer season with its annual concerts in June and July. “Madrigals and More” is built around a core of works that celebrate the “part song” as manifested through the ages, with music that ranges from serene to upbeat and sacred to secular. Repertoire covers both a broad spectrum of time, from medieval through the 20th century, and of style, from rondeau, round, and Renaissance polyphony through contemporary harmony.

“The madrigal, far from being an abandoned form, is alive and well,” Music Director Gregory Moore said. “We generated this program from our desire to revisit and examine its many moods. These are songs of love (both sacred and secular) as well as those that tell a story, be it sweet or bawdy.”

VoXX will present four performances of “Madrigals and More”: Friday, June 21 at the First Baptist Church, 95 High Street in Belfast, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 22 at Rockport’s iconic Opera House, 6 Central Street, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 13 at the lovely Blue Hill Congregational Church, 22 Tenney Hill in Blue Hill, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, July 14 at the historic South Cushing Baptist Church on Salt Pond Road as part of the Cushing Historical Society’s summer series at 3:00 p.m. Admission is $10, tickets available at the door.

“We will be singing in wonderful venues this summer. We’re very excited about our debut performance in the lovely sanctuary space of Belfast’s First Baptist Church and also looking forward to taking the stage again at the wonderful Rockport Opera House. Blue Hill Congregational Church has excellent acoustics, and we’ll be part of the Vander Kay summer series there. Finally, a trip to Cushing is always a treat for us — the church’s historic architecture is practically intact and the community is so welcoming and appreciative,” said Moore.

In keeping with VoXX’s tradition the program has some of the earliest expressions of harmony with works by Adam de la Halle and Francesco Landini as well as the rich colors and textures of such Renaissance masters as Palestrina, Heinrich Isaac, and the very contemporary-sounding 16th-century composer Gesualdo. No exploration of the Renaissance madrigal would be complete without a visit to the English School, here represented by the lively works of Weelkes, Farmer, and Purcell.

Inspired by texts in “Old French”,,Francis Poulenc crafted what can best be described as modern folk songs — some of which have become so much a part of French culture that they are thought to be true, ancient folk songs. Herbert Howells, one of the great modern English masters of contrapuntal writing is represented with his richly textured setting of Austin Dobson’s poem, Before me, careless lying. Daniel Pinkham (a fellow New Englander born in Lynn, Mass. in 1923) turned to the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins for his moving and dramatic sacred madrigal, Jesu that dost in Mary dwell, while Morten Lauridsen looked to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke for inspiration when crafting one of the most hauntingly gentle and moving love songs on this program, Contre qui, Rose. Fellow American Abbie Betinis revisits one of the earliest forms of part writing, the round, in her beautiful and evocative Be like a bird. “With so much variety in form and text there is something here to surprise and delight everyone,” Moore concluded.

Now in its second decade, VoXX has sung up and down the Maine coast, and generally performs two scheduled concert sets per year, in January and mid-summer. VoXX likes the challenges of unusual vocal music, yet more familiar works by such renowned composers as Britten, Byrd, Dufay, Holst, Josquin, Lauridsen, Vaughan Williams, and Whitacre (not to mention Anonymous) are also central to the repertoire. VoXX mainly performs a cappella, but appropriate instrumentation (recorders, percussion, strings) is occasionally added.

VoXX is unusual in that it is a collectively run, all-volunteer organization. Membership is by audition (the group is currently seeking new members, see the group’s website for details), and singers come from all walks of life: teachers and students, professionals and retirees. Members who want to can share in the responsibility of bringing music selections to the group and may take turns teaching and leading if they so choose. The group has built a strong following and is well known for its efforts to inform audiences through extensive program notes.

The group recently released its first CD, VoXX: Voice of Twenty: “Favorites Old and New.” It is available at the group’s concerts and website, and via VoXX is available to perform by invitation. Visit or e-mail for more information.