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Renaissance Revival - Saturday 3rd June 7PM Temple Church, London. 

Riccardo Bianchi Conductor

Jacopo Brusa Organ

KorMalta National Choir of Malta

INCIPIT: lamentatio Ieremiae CARPENTRAS





IOTH: Manus Muilerium CARPENTRAS


Requiem Fragments (2023) RUBEN ZAHRA 

Programme Notes

Programme Notes

This revival is focused on the Office of Darkness takes place during the three days of Holy Week, a sombre remembrance and reflection on the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Among the Psalms sung to illustrate this three-day period known as the triduum sacrum, the Church chose those that predict the circumstances of Christ's Passion. With the same inspiration, the Church also borrowed from the prophet Jeremiah’s readings or lessons for the first three nocturnes of each day of this triduum sacrum.  The desolation of Jerusalem, so vividly depicted by the Prophet, is a true picture of the awful state to which sin had reduced us.

The book of Lamentations of Jeremiah recalls the inevitable consequences of disobedience, which all plaintive occurrences describe with force and conviction, with 154 verses that are not repeated once. Moses foretold it: Yahweh will take as much pleasure from your loss and destruction as he found to make you happy and multiply!  (Deuteronomy 28:63).

Jeremiah (627 BC – 587BC) is a prophet from Anatoth, the 2nd of the Great Prophets with Isaiah and Ezekiel. Throughout his life, he fought against the formalism of worship and castigated the priests, false prophets and kings Josiah, Joachim and Zedekiah for whom he blamed for Israel's misfortunes. He lived at a time when people forgot God, and that's why he begged God not to forget them. It is he who announces the destruction of Jerusalem. He would later say that he was born for the curse. He ended his life in Egypt.

Jeremiah, persecuted more than any other, is considered by Christian tradition as the prophet of the Passion of Christ. This is one of the reasons why the reading of his Lamentations was introduced during the week before Easter to translate more intensely the drama of Calvary.

Each lesson of the Triduum Sacrum of Holy Week ends with a text from the Book of Hosea (14:2), one of the twelve minor prophets:  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum, : Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Be converted to the Lord your God.

This text, which does not belong to the original text of Lamentations, is perfectly adapted to the liturgical context. He concludes each Lamentation Lesson. This concluding text has always been the subject of special treatment by composers.

This call is a response to the terrible evocations of lamentations.

Often the Lamentations are sung and for this reason, together with the great responsories, they are musically the most important texts of Tenebrae and were set to music in polyphony by the most important composers since the fifteenth century.


A distinctive feature of these readings is the appearance of the Hebrew letters (Aleph, Beth, Ghimel) at the beginning of each verse, since in the original Hebrew scripts the five chapters of lament are largely an alphabetical acrostic. In our concert we will perform them all "a cappella" without instruments, to emulate the original ancient interpretation as authentically as possible.

A Modern Premier

A Modern Premier

The collection of Lamentations that we will hear tonight is a first performance in modern times: the first Renaissance print was created in Paris in 1557 in the famous printing house of Le Roi & Ballard.

The first difficulty of a modern edition is the  transcription from the original ancient source. The original choral book writing of the Renaissance presents each choir part arranged seperately. Each part is written individually with a writing that is called "mensural notation" but which prefers the horizontal line of chant a legacy of Gregorian chant, especially in particular stylistic features such as "ligaturae" and blackening.

Sometimes modern notation cannot faithfully transcribe the desired effect of the ancient source, so it is necessary to work on the right phrasing and horizontality in the study and rehearsals.

Of course, it is also important to note the absence of barlines which we believe should give this music a certain elasticity on the tempo that must always be at the service of the word and never the word forced to adapt to the prescribed Tempo. Here are born the concepts of “inequality” or notes with the same duration but which must be sung "unequal" or with a slight inequality of rhythm.

Every style in this repertoire was aimed at the exaltation of the single musical line treated in almost theological detail. To transcribe in modern notation you almost have to immerse yourself in the past and operate an extraordinary treasure hunt.

The Composers

The Composers

The collection of Lamentations that we will perform tonight, is precisely a sort of "anthology" compiled by different authors. Interestingly, all composers were born in the second half of the 1400s when a novel way of composing music was being ushered in and labeled as ‘’modern’’ in contrast to the other works of the time. The composers who compiled this collection are all part of a generation of "transition" between ancient and modern.


Éléazard, Elzéard Genet, il Carpentrasso
(Carpentras ~1470 – Avignon 1548)

A French composer nicknamed after his hometown, he was called to one of the three choral capellaniæ in Avignon.

In 1508, he was cantor for Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere) who was previously the bishop in Avignon before 1503. Carpentras eventually left Rome in 1512 while retaining his privileges as Papal Cantor and went on to became a member of the French Royal Chapel of King Louis XII. The composer was appointed Maestro of the Papal Chapel by a decree of Pope Leo X dated November 5, 1513 and remained so until the death of the pope in 1521.

Antoine de Févin
(Arras ~1470 – Blois ~1511)

French composer, son of an alderman of Arras. It is known that he attained the position of cantor for King Louis XII who held him in great esteem. Guillaume Cretin's lament for another musician commemorates him in his memoires on the trespas of the late buttre Jehan Braconnier dit Lourdault. Jean Mouton does the same in his lamentation who did not forget the kindness of Fevin.

He wrote Lamentations for the Office of Matins on Holy Thursday which appear in many manuscripts or printed matter:


Costanzo Festa 
(Villafranca Sabauda, près de Turin ~1485 – Rome 1545)

Italian composer and cantor. From 1510 to 1517 he was music teacher and mentor of Rodrigo and Alfonso d'Avalos, members of the powerful ducal family in Ischia in the Bay of Naples. Festa was later appointed as Cantor of the Pontifical Chapel until his death (Leo X, Adrian VI, Clement VII and Paul III).  His madrigals are also of high acclaim, some of which have unfortunately been lost to history. 


Jacques Arcadelt 
(Namur ? ~1500 - 1568)

Franco-Flemish composer, he went around to Rome circa 1536 where he succesfully became Master of the Choirboys of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican. As an associate at the College of Papal Chaplains and Camerlengo of the same chapel, Arcadelt entered the service of Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, a situation that probably brought him back to Paris where he spent his final days.


He is said to have influenced the great Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Claudio Monteverdi. Reputed as a madrigalist, his compositions include both sacred and secular music.


Claudin de Sermisy 
(~1490 – Paris 1562)

French composer, he appears for the 1st time in history as a clerk at the Sainte-Chapelle of the palace in 1508, joined the chapel of Anne of Brittany in June 1510, then became clerk of the diocese of Noyon where he aspired to the priory of Bouguenais in the diocese of Nantes. Nonetheless, on the death of Anne of Brittany passes instead to the service of Louis XII at the Royal Chapel in 1515. Sermisy was given a canonry at Notre-Dame-la-Ronde de Rouen which he exchanged in 1524 for a chapel in the parish of Cambron in the diocese of Amiens and would have succeeded Antoine de Longueval as maistre and rector probably in 1525 although he is mentioned only as soubz maistre of the music chapel under the reign of Francis I and the beginning of that of Henry II. This title was shared with Louis Hérault de Servissas, from 1543 to 1547, then with Guillaume Belin and Hilaire Rousseau, from 1547 to 1553, until he received a canonry at the Sainte-Chapelle in 1533, and a prebend at Sainte-Catherine de Troyes.

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