St Mary Schola Testimonial
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The Saint Mary Schola, based at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Falmouth, Maine, is a professional early music ensemble devoted to the performance of master works from the medieval, renaissance and baroque eras. Composed of northern New England's finest singers and accompanying instrumentalists, this ensemble has gained a reputation for excellence and elegant chamber music, especially in the a cappella tradition.

The Schola presents enthusiastic audiences with literature that is seldom heard, including motets from such masters as Dufay, Victoria, Josquin Des Prez and William Byrd. There is often a special attention given to the great predecessor to Bach: Heinrich Schütz. The goals of the Saint Mary Schola are to provide the finest early music literature to New England audiences and promote professional vocal ensemble singing at the highest level.

Announcing Schola Concerts for Spring 2015

lenten roses

Lenten Concert -  Vows and Visions

A very moving concert of profound music, including Bach’s Cantata 159 'Sehet, wir geh’n hinauf nach Jerusalem' and Carissimi’s drama of foolish pride, Jephthah, as well as motets from the Renaissance, Baroque and modern era.

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2015, 7:30 PM, First Parish Church, Brunswick
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Friday, March 27, 7:30 PM, Cathedral of Saint Luke, Portland
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Sunday, March 29, 4 PM, Church of Saint Mary, Falmouth
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Click here to read program!

Our Lenten concert this year explores the thorny subject of war. The conflicts that have troubled humanity in the past still threaten earth’s prosperity today. It is uncanny how stories from three thousand years ago remind us of recent events.

We will be performing a sacred drama by Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674) called Jephthah, which recounts a battle from the Book of Judges. Jephthah was called upon to lead his people against the Ammonites. In his haste, not clearly thinking of consequences, he made a vow that if victorious, whom ever he first met after the battle, he would offer in burnt sacrifice. It is a horrifying story and unthinkable how anyone could make such a bargain. That his only daughter meets him after the victory compounds the foolishness of his actions.

Carissimi provides very powerful music for this drama. The battle scenes are illustrated by energetic choruses full of rhythmic intensity. It is ironic that composers have glorified war through magnificent music, but in Carissimi’s defense, he had to do that in order to make the impending tragedy so heart breaking. The scenes with Jephthah (sung by Martin Lescault) and his daughter (sung by Molly Harmon) contain music as moving as anything Monteverdi ever wrote.

Handel was also drawn to this story and composed a huge oratorio in 1752. Martin Lescault will sing a poignant aria in which Jephthah prays that the angels will ‘waft his daughter through the skies.’ The Georgians perhaps could not stomach the ending, so an angel saves the daughter with the wise words: “No vow can disannul the law of God; nor such was its intent, when rightly scanned.”

Visions have also played an important role in religion and history. Sometimes these visions resulted in kind and virtuous leaders, but there is always the danger that the visions can be misinterpreted. John Blow, a contemporary of Purcell, wrote an elaborate verse anthem for the 1685 coronation of James II called ‘God Spake Sometime in Visions.’ Based on verses from psalm 89, the text glorifies a leader who will protect the people and ‘smite down his foes before his face.’ There are also gentler verses speaking of God’s covenant and his constant mercy. Alas, James II turned out to be not such an estimable leader: following the upheaval of the religious Civil War, his insistence to move the country towards Catholicism led to the 1688 Revolution and his removal from the throne.

Continuing the theme of historic conflicts, our concert will open with a lament on the fall of Constantinople by Guillaume Dufay in 1453 and a song based on the poetry of Hazrat Hassan Ibn Thabit commemorating the fall of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in 1492.

And since we are in Lent, we will perform the Bach Cantata ‘Behold, We Travel Towards Jerusalem.’ As is often the case with his cantatas, Bach composes a spiritual drama that begins with anguish and ends with joy. There is a dialogue between mezzo soprano Andrea Graichen and bass John Adams, fearful but also expectant about Jesus’ journey to the crucifixion. An aria promising to follow the savior includes the famous chorale ‘O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.’ Then a transcendental bass aria, reminding us of Mahler (who composed his music only surrounded by the works of Bach), looks forward to the completion of all suffering.

All together, this will be a stirring concert and we look forward to sharing such masterworks with you.


Spring Concert - Combat and Carols

A joyous spring concert featuring Monteverdi’s rarely performed drama ‘The Combat between Tancred and Clorinda’ interpreted by the Schola soloists and guest dancers of the Portland Ballet, accompanied by strings, harpsichord, archlute. Light hearted madrigals and a Handel Chandos anthem will complete the concert.

Friday, May 29, 7:30 PM, Cathedral of Saint Luke, Portland
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Sunday, May 31, 4 PM, Church of Saint Mary, Falmouth
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Tuesday, Jun 2, 7:30 PM, First Parish Church, Brunswick
You may buy tickets for this concert here.

Updated: 3/2/2015