Il Festino

(From Jodie O'Regan)

Sunday 4th December saw Adelaide Choir "Voices in the Wilderness" present the magic and nonsense of "Il Festino", a wonderful renaissance piece by Bolognan Monk Adriano Banchieri with English text written for the occasion by Jodie O'Regan.

The work is a collection of madrigals, woven together with commentary and interjections from the ridiculous character Modern Pleasure.

Musical guests Ray Smith and Kerryn Schofield joined us on period instruments and our own vocal quartet Time Sweetened Honey opened the concert with some Elizabethan hits.

Madrigal comedies come from late renaissance Italy and draw on the characters and ideas of commedia dell'arte. They were written to be sung but not fully dramatised. They are playful, theatrical and raucous. There were only about two dozen ever composed - evolution favoured the rise of opera! So this piece holds a special little spot in musical history.

I am in love with the music of this work. The harmonic language sounds so fresh and new to my ears - just thrilling. What a piece of music. It's raucous and rowdy and cheeky and beautiful. The text ranges from the most sublime love poetry, to a canon of ridiculous animal noises. The whole work is a romp of joyful silliness mixed with stunning choral writing. 

It's also written for (but rarely performed by) community singers. So this is the authentic deal. We performed it on the instruments it was composed for! And you can hear it. The earthiness, the lustiness, the robust singing of a joyous community choir bring this work to life.

I hope you like the translation. This was a premiere of my English text.

A special thank you to Bethany Hill who lent her early music expertise to our preparation work. I would like to express my immense gratitude to all the singers of Voices, who have thrown themselves into the preparations for this work with creativity, determination and joy.

Voices in the Wilderness is an irrepressible and adventurous Adelaide Choir whose previous concerts range from Vivaldi's Gloria to debuting a Children's Cantata of Beatrix Potter's Tailor of Gloucester to performing Appalachian songs at Wirrina's Bluegrass and Roots Festival.

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