Spring Singers’ Retreat to Explore Propers from Dufay to Byrd

Updated March 6, 2020: The Singer’s Retreat for March 28–29 has been POSTPONED until the fall to ensure the health of participants and staff. Stay posted for future updates.

The Renaissance Singers’ Retreat will convene on March 28–29, 2020. This will start our 34th year of singing glorious medieval and Renaissance polyphony under the direction of Professor William P. Mahrt of Stanford University. We will be at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. for the Saturday March 28 rehearsal and at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. for the Sunday March 29 rehearsal which will be followed by a free performance at 4:00 p.m. We will be meeting at 9:00 a.m. on October 5 at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave., for the Saturday rehearsal and at 9:00 a.m. at the nearby Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., for the Sunday October 6 rehearsal and 4:00 p.m. free concert. Our conductor has announced that the performance is a necessary part of the workshop, that it is not possible to skip the performance or to attend for one day only.

The repertory of the retreat will be “the Propers of the Mass from Dufay to Byrd.” Mass propers are the pieces that pertain only to a particular day, usually once a year, and so a repertory that includes all the propers is not very extensive. Only a few composers have provided very extensive collections of such pieces, but there are some very distinguished examples. Dufay provided a complete Mass, ordinary and proper, for the Feast of St. James, some very exciting pieces. He also composed numerous settings for the court situation of his employ. Heinrich Isaac composed perhaps the most extensive collection, the Choralis Constantinus, for the court of Emperor Maximilian (several hundred pieces). William Byrd composed sets for twelve major feast days (the Gradualia), plus some votive Masses. Other composers wrote sets of one particular type of proper, such as the offertories for the penitential seasons of Orlando di Lasso; and many composed occasional pieces, which set the prescribed piece for a particular day, such as those of Jacob Handl. Often these pieces pertain to very particular themes of a feast day and are given vivid settings.”

The fee for the workshop will once again be $115.  No overnight accommodations or meals will be provided, but we will have an extensive snack table so bring something to share. Full scholarships are available, and we wish to extend an invitation to all SFEMS administrative office to attend the workshop as our guests, the only stipulation being that Bill has asked that you attend both days of the retreat including the performance.  Let us know if you plan to come so that you can be included on our roster. A registration form and contact information are available at our website: http://www.renaissancesingersretreat.org/ Direct any questions to Ralph Prince, 510-778-3253, reprince@hotmail.com.

Renaissance Singers’ Retreat is an affiliate of the San Francisco Early Music Society.

Written by Jonathan Harris