Women’s Secret Voices

Here are two juicy paragraphs from the programme notes to Cappella Artemisia’s upcoming concert featuring seldom-heard music composed and performed by women behind the walls of 16th and 17th century Italian convents:

Convent life represented virtually the only honourable choice for women outside of marriage, and many young Italian girls inhabited the monasteries. Music was practiced there every day for it literally represented their voice in the outside world, and its excellent quality drew hordes of listeners from throughout Europe.

Church authorities took a dim view of these blasphemous “tourist attractions”, considering music to be one of the most impelling dangers to the spiritual wellbeing of the nuns. Rules strictly limited or even prohibited certain types of music, the use of most musical instruments, and instruction by outside music teachers. Yet an enormous wealth of music was either dedicated to, written by, or referred to nuns.

Cappella Artemsia brings together some of Europe’s best early-music singers and instrumentalists. The concert happens at ArtSpring in Tuesday, October 30 at 7:30, with a pre-concert chat to set the musical and historical background at 6:30. Tickets are inexpensive and on sale now.

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