MUSIC AT GARGONZA
a course for choral singers led by Carlos Aransay
22 to 28 April 2019

A course for experienced choral singers of all ages and nationalities in a fortified mediaeval Tuscan village, its restored houses now serving as a comfortable hotel.  A group of up to thirty-six singers will rehearse a programme of choral music in a comfortable rehearsal space created in the former frantoio or olive press. The course will be held in English. The general aim is to create an intense musical experience in good company and a relaxed and convivial setting.

Manuel Cardoso ~ Lamentations
Juan Esquivel ~ Duo seraphim
Bernardino de Ribera ~ Dimitte me ergo
Three madrigals in tribute to Jacopo Corsi
Giovanni del Turco ~ Corso hai di questa vita
Pietro Strozzi ~ Portate aure del cielo
Marco da Gagliano ~ Fuggi lo spirto
Alessandro Scarlatti ~ Missa Clementina
Knut Nystedt ~ Immortal Bach
Astor Piazzolla ~ Libertango
and Verano Porteño

The course will be led by Carlos Aransay, doyen of the many Iberian musicians now living in London: founder and director of the award-winning Coro Cervantes, leading light of the Iberian and Latin American Music Society, the inspiration behind Lacock’s pilgrimage to some of the great Spanish cathedrals and courses in Portugal, Mexico and Cuba, first port of call for advice on matters Hispanic for organisations such as Deutsche Grammophon and Covent Garden and a regular orchestral conductor the length and breadth of Latin America from the pampas to the Rio Grande.

Carlos Aransay writes: “Great music wouldn’t have been possible without the patronage of powerful figures such as João IV of Portugal or the Medici in Florence. João was a composer himself and a keen defender of ‘modern music’. Most of the music written for him vanished in the earthquake of 1755. Fortunately Cardoso’s Lamentations survived and are truly exquisite. Juan Esquivel spent most of his life as maestro de capilla of Salamanca cathedral. His six-part motet Duo seraphim shares the rich symbolism found in settings of Guerrero and Victoria and deserves our attention. The same can be said of Bernardino de Ribera, who was Victoria’s mentor at Ávila cathedral, and who would become maestro of Toledo and Murcia (where my parents were born). Bruno Turner admires the ‘mournful pathos’ achieved by Ribera with a major mode in his Dimitte me ergo.What a treat to be hosted in Gargonza by a direct descendant of Jacopo Corsi, co-writer (with Jacopo Peri) of Dafne, today considered as the first opera. Corsi was second only to the Medici as patron of music in Florence. I have tracked down three madrigals written in his honour. The Medici were also patrons of Alessandro Scarlatti. His Missa Clementina was his most circulated piece, with more than twenty five different copies in European libraries and many more copies made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I think it is truly a beautiful work. It will be the centrepiece of our programme, which ends with much lighter music. Nystedt’s Immortal Bach consists of eight bars by Johann Sebastian, cleverly expanded into a great acoustic experience for singers and audience alike. One of my favourites! As are, without any doubt, Piazzolla’s witty and melodious tangos, which will keep us entertained when we are not in a more solemn mood. I truly look forward to this mix of fabulous music which deserves more modern performances with lots of unexpected connections both with our hosts, my country of origin and, of course, Italy! I will be paying particular attention to vocal technique, hoping to help you get the most of this week vocally, musically and as ever, in the best spirit of community and discovery. I hope you will join us!”

The Castello of Gargonza is a quintessential piece of historic Tuscany a walled mediaeval hilltop village of stone houses, an olive mill, four bread ovens (still functioning), a fortified tower and a church, surrounded by its estate of thirty-three farms and woods. For centuries it lived on the biblical staples of corn, wine and oil, and also wool and timber. After the second world war it had become deserted and ruinous and in 1970 the current owner’s father, Roberto Guicciardini Corsi Salviati set about the heroic task of restoring the entire village into a modern comfortable hotel, with the laudable policy of minimal intervention. The work continues in the hands of his son Neri and his wife Elisa.

Further details of the programme, travel, accommodation, fees and enrolment.