Good things come in threes, it's said. Bad things do, too, but never mind. The Green Mountain Monteverdi Ensemble of Vermont (pictured here) cheekily goes for triple redundancy in its name — can you spot them? — and for a trio of performances this week around the state. But in its program, GMMEV goes for pairs.
That is, pairs of composers of Baroque-era sacred choral and vocal music who set the same text to different music. "Double-Takes" includes in most cases one setting for a duet or other small ensemble and another for a larger group, director Stephen Falbel explains. He promises it will "make for a fascinating evening of juxtapositions of styles and ensembles."
On that program are three motets by Johann Sebastian Bach and works by Schütz, Schein, Scheidt, Franck and Johann Christoph Bach — cousin of the more famous Bach.
"Double-Takes" features eight singers, many of whom have performed with Vermont's esteemed professional vocal ensemble Counterpoint: sopranos Lindsey Warren and Cathleen Stadecker; altos Carolyn Dickinson and Linda Radtke; tenors Adam Hall and Paul Reynolds (replaced by Counterpoint director Nathaniel Lew in the Burlington concert); and basses Falbel and Brett Murphy.
By the way, Falbel notes that "Double-Takes" will mark Reynolds' debut as a singer in vocal chamber music. He normally can be found playing viola.
Speaking of instruments: The musicians here are Lynnette Combs on organ, Tom Jocks on viola da gamba and Matthew Wright on theorbo.
For me, I must confess, a theorbo was in the Learn Something New Every Day Department. Falbel describes it as like a lute but with no bent neck, single-strung like a guitar, and teardrop shaped. The bass-toned instrument, he notes, is used in Baroque music. Mr. Google led me to the further explanation that the theorbo was developed in the 1580s in Florence to accompany the voice. And a picture shows it to be long-necked and much bigger than I had imagined. Which makes sense for a bass.
GMMEV, just in its second year, is named after the Monteverdi Music School, which is the group's fiscal sponsor and provides rehearsal space. The school is located in the nascent Center for Arts & Learning in Montpelier, which is currently exploring a capital campaign to further renovate the former nunnery it inhabits on Barre Street. (I wrote about the new nonprofit consortium in Seven Days last year.) But that's another story for another time.
On to listening double.
GreenMountain Monteverdi Ensemble of Vermont performs “Double-Takes,” a concert of sacred choral and vocal Baroque music, Wednesday, June 5, 7 p.m., atUnited Church of Strafford; Friday, June 7, 7:30 p.m., at First Baptist Churchin Burlington; Saturday, June 8, 7:30 p.m., Unitarian Church of Montpelier. $20suggested donation for each show. Live performance Friday, June 7, 11 a.m.; onVPR Classical.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Falbel.