Season 2018-2019

Leçons de ténèbres

September 30, 2018 – 3:00PM

First Presbyterian Church, 10025 105 St, Edmonton

Jolaine Kerley, soprano
Katie Partridge, soprano
Josephine van Lier, viola da gamba
Marnie Giesbrecht, harpsichord
This program of French baroque music from the court of Louis XIV features Edmonton soprano Jolaine Kerley and Calgary based soprano Katie Partridge, with Josephine van Lier on viola da gamba and violone and Marnie Giesbrecht on harpsichord.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, who wrote grand pieces for large forces, François Couperin preferred to pen compositions for one or two solo voices and continuo. Out of an apparently complete set of Tenebrae lessons drawn from the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet, only three have survived, and they are presented on this concert along with a Magnificat, scored for two sopranos and continuo. Also on the program are Couperin’s Pièces de Clavecin and a suite for viola da gamba and continuo by Marin Marais. Both Couperin and Marais worked at the court of Louis XIV.
Rarely performed, the music on this program is very expressive and exposed and the musicians must make the music sound like simplicity itself.
The Program:
François Couperin: Magnificat 2 sopranos, viola da gamba and continuo
François Couperin: 3 Leçons de ténèbres for 1 and 2 sopranos, viola da gamba and continuo
Marin Marais: Suite in a minor from Livre V, for viola da gamba and continuo
François Couperin: Pièces de Clavecin
– Passacaille (Bk II Huitième Order)
– Les Baricades Mistérieuses (Book II: Sixième Ordre)
– Le Moucheron (Book II: Sixième Ordre)
– La Muse Victorieuse (Book IV: Vingt-Cinquième Ordre)


May 3, 4 and 5, 2019


A towering masterpiece of the early Baroque — at once intimate and grand, prayerful and dramatic, exalted and sensual. Monteverdi’s rarely performed 1610 Vespers of the Blessed Virgin offers up a dizzying array of textures and sonorities in brilliant instrumental writing, opulent choruses, and moving solo arias and duets.

Don’t miss this highlight of the 9th annual Early Music Festival on Saturday evening, May 4 (with a repeat performance in Calgary on Sunday, May 5).

In its time, the Vespers was unprecedented in scale—seven solo singers, a chorus large enough to divide in as many as ten parts, and a varied and colorful orchestra.

Its first performance was in Venice at the St Mark’s Basilica. Monteverdi made full use of the many balconies of the cathedral, with musicians and singers performing from every corner and balcony in the church. This place, where the first polyphonic music was written by Monteverdi and some of his contemporaries was the inspiration for this grande composition. For the performance at First Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in Edmonton with some beautiful balconies, Early Music Alberta’s interpretation of the piece will transport you to the early 17th century in Venice.

Never before performed in Edmonton, Early Music Alberta brings our talented local musicians, with the addition of specialists from across Canada, together for an unforgettable performance. The musicians perform on historic, some seldom heard instruments such as sackbuts, cornetti, dulcian, violone, theorbos and recorders, cello, violins and organ.

This performance will be repeated on Sunday, May 5 in Calgary in collaboration with Early Music Voices (

On Saturday afternoon, May 4, there will be the annual community concert. It is a performance dedicated to community ensembles who devote their free time to the historically informed performance of early music.

On Saturday morning, May 4, there will be a chance for community musicians with any instrument to join a Renaissance reading session and there will be the opportunity to learn about menuets and sarabands in a baroque dance workshop. Both of these events are free of charge.

There will also be masterclasses by some of Canada’s finest period performers.

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