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Republic of Music: "A Unique and Rare Collaboration"

(Photo: Chanelle Sinclair)

For the second concert of our 2016/17 season, we will be joined by the exceptional wind ensemble Mill Avenue Chamber Players for an innovative performance of music from the nexus of Renaissance music—the Republic of Venice.

We recently sat down with MACP founder Dr. Rose French to chat about our upcoming concert, Republic of Music — held Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Why did you decide to collaborate with Helios?

Kenny Miller performed with us last season on our "Winter" series which included a modern work by Australian composer Brett Dean, "Winteresse" by Franz Schubert and the Blake Songs by R. Vaughn Williams. We had such an amazing time working with Kenny that all of us wanted to find a way to collaborate together again for this season. Also, with two shared residencies at Central United Methodist Church and Phoenix College, we wanted to collaborate to show what great music happening right in the central corridor of downtown Phoenix.

Why the Republic of Music?

As instrumentalist, our access to music from the Renaissance Era is quite limited because our instruments were still evolving into the modern form that we use today and typically written for brass choirs that performed antiphonally with large choirs. However, with the combination of a seven-voice chamber ensemble and a woodwind quintet will bring a completely different aesthetic to our concerts: resonance of the voices and the woodwinds, paired with the fluidity that modern instruments can offer.

How did you select the music for this concert?

Since the woodwind quintet did exist for another 100 years all the music has been transcribed by members of MACP. I am familiar with a lot of works of G. Gabrieli since I have performed them often in a brass ensemble setting. However, I was also able to transcribe more complicated organ works for the quintet that I can't wait to hear at Central United Methodist Church!

Did you have any challenges transcribing the music?

The biggest challenge was narrowing down the list of pieces to transcribe! Since the woodwind quintet has a wide range from the flute to the bassoon, the most difficulty was trying to decide how to use the colors of the quintet replicate the original intentions of the composition. Some of works we transcribed were originally for organ, our goal is to fill the sanctuary with gorgeous, resonant sound that mimics the nimble keyboard work of an organ, but also the grand chords the will envelope the entire audience.

Why is this performance unique?

Two things make this performance unique:

First, whenever you see a performance of vocalists with instrumentalists, the instrumentalists are usually playing a secondary role — much like attending an opera where the instrumentalist are in the pit. So to have these two chamber ensembles performing together as equals, is a unique and rare collaboration. Secondly, the time period for MACP is an area of music that we have not previously explored, so it will be a unique opportunity to share the music of the Venetian school and the amazing work of Helios with our audience.