Schola Antiqua of Chicago

With Special Guests Nell Snaidas, Soprano and Amro Helmy, Oud player
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Atrium - Perimeter Institute

A lone voice echoes through Perimeter’s four-storey glass Atrium. It is the Adhan, the traditional rendition of the Muslim call to prayer, but here it is calling us to experience the sounds of medieval Jerusalem. Featuring Islamic chants, Christian chants in Georgian and Armenian, and a set of Sephardic songs, Schola Antiqua’s unique choral program uses music to erase the boundaries that divide us.

NOTE: Since this concert will be held in the atrium it will be a General Admission concert. Subscribers will receive the benefit of priority seat selection on the night of the concert.

Programme:

“Without narrative – and starting with an overlapping call of sacred sounds as might be heard in some hours at the Dung Gate, or Aleppo of a former decade, or in cities of North Africa, or Mumbai – we introduce some memories preserved in oral or written tradition from the peoples who inhabited or moved through medieval Jerusalem.”

– Matthew Dean, Sounds of Jerusalem curator

Biography:

Schola Antiqua of Chicago is a professional early music ensemble dedicated to the performance of repertory before the year 1600. Executing pre-modern music  with “sensitivity and style” (Early Music America), Schola Antiqua takes pride in providing the highest standards of research, performance, and education. Founded in 2000, the organization has received invitations to perform from festivals, libraries, universities, and other institutions across the Midwest, including residencies at the University of Chicago and the Lumen Christi Institute.

In 2012, Schola Antiqua received the Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society for outstanding contributions to historical performing practice. Its connections to the academic community can be seen in collaborations with scholars from around the United States. The ensemble has recorded music accompanying Theodore Karp’s Introduction to the Post-Tridentine Mass Proper, 1590-1890 (American Institute of Musicology, 2005), Margot Fassler's Music in the Medieval West (W.W. Norton, 2013), and the medieval art exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. Other collaborations have included Arms & Armor at the Art Institute of Chicago, late-medieval prayer books at the Morgan Library with Roger Wieck, and Religious Change and Print at the Newberry Library. The medieval Jerusalem program has been acclaimed by Commonweal and Seen and Heard International as transcendent, and is the ensemble’s first international touring program.

Schola Antiqua has released four commercial CDs on the Naxos of America and Discantus labels, and much of the music has not seen a modern recording. Music from these albums has aired on the national broadcasts of With Heart and Voice, Harmonia, and Millennium of Music, and has received reviews in Early Music America, Fanfare, the Journal of Plainsong and Medieval Music, and Notes (Music Library Association). The group’s latest CD, Missa Conceptio tua: Medieval and Renaissance Music for Advent (Naxos of America, 2014) was named one of the best classical albums in 2014 by Culture Catch.

Michael Alan Anderson was named Artistic Director of Schola Antiqua in 2008, following the retirement of its founding Artistic Director, Calvin M. Bower. He is a founding member of the ensemble and currently serves on the musicology faculty of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, where he specializes in music and devotion in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. He is author of the book St. Anne in Renaissance Music: Devotion and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and received the PhD from the University of Chicago in 2008. He is a two-time winner of the Deems Taylor Award (American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers) for outstanding writing about music, and his achievements with Schola Antiqua earned him Chorus America’s 2016 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal. Other awards include the Noah Greenberg Award (American Musicological Society), the Alvin H. Johnson American Musicological Society 50 Dissertation-Year Fellowship, the Grace Frank Grant (Medieval Academy of America), and the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend.

Matthew Dean, tenor, has served as a performer and advisor with Schola Antiqua since 2002, and as Program Director of the international Sounds of Faith Initiative at the Harran Foundation since 2009. Trained at the University of Chicago as a medieval art historian, Matt has developed both early music and folk music singing paths into national touring appointments with vocal luminaries The Newberry Consort and The Rose Ensemble. As a Baroque and modern oratorio soloist, Matt has been praised for his “firm vocalism and beautiful timbre” (John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune), his “stellar” collaborative singing (Alan Artner), and his “stirring” storytelling as a Bach Evangelist (Chicago Classical Review). Matt has had the honor of working with Amro Helmy since 2012 on Sounds of Faith, and with Nell Snaidas since 2015 through the Rose Ensemble and The Newberry Consort.

Amro Hosny Helmy is a unique and highly talented teacher and oud player who is a master of a large number of styles using different techniques, approaches and textures. His style of playing and his compositions have earned him a considerable international fan base.  His musical style deeply captures the emotion of the audience. He began to teach himself how to play oud from age 14 and graduated from music college in Egypt in 1992. He is now recognized as an innovative performer and composer; he has performed more than fifty concerts around the world, among them a focus on interfaith events in Chicago. Beyond his outstanding onstage performances, he is also a teacher of the musical arts and of Arabic in many schools in Chicago.  Amro’s dedication to his craft and his students ensures that quality music will continue to flourish.

American-Uruguayan soprano Nell Snaidas has been praised by The New York Times for her “beautiful soprano voice, melting passion” and “vocally ravishing” performances. Her voice has also been described as “remarkably pure with glints of rich sensuality” (Vancouver Sun); and she has been called “a model of luminous timbre and emotional intensity” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Specialization in Latin American and Spanish Baroque music has taken her all over Europe, North and Latin America, as a vocal soloist, guitarist, and language and repertoire advisor, with ensembles including Apollo’s Fire, The Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Ex Umbris, Ensemble Viscera, El Mundo, and Chatham Baroque. She has recorded for Sony Classical, Koch, Naxos and Dorian. Her latest album as a featured soloist with El Mundo has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Small Ensemble category. While still a student at the Mannes College of Music, Nell was introduced to the Sephardic repertoire by her mentor Nico Castel. She has toured the world with Sephardic Heritage Award winner Gerard Edery in his ensemble and has served as Ladino consultant with The Rose Ensemble as well as co-director with Jeannette Sorrell in the program “Sephardic Journey” with Apollo’s Fire. Nell was featured on CBC radio as one of the leading interpreters of Spanish Renaissance and Sephardic song. In addition to her busy performing career, Nell is the co-Artistic Director of GEMAS:Early Music of the Americas. This concert series in NYC, devoted to the Early Music and Performers of Latin America and Canada, is a project of the Americas Society and GEMS (The Gotham Early Music Scene). More information can be found at www.gemasconcerts.org