Lecture/Recital with Alexander Blachly and Pomerium
The Origins of Polyphony: Music and Numbers
in the Late Middle Ages
Time: 8 pm
Admission: Free, no tickets required
More info at www.gemsny.org/events/pomerium
The lecture-recital will show how the philosophical conception of a numerically ordered universe inherited from Pythagoras and his followers—Plato, Ptolemy, Boethius, and many others in the late Middle Ages—influenced the composition of polyphonic music from the earliest measurable polyphony we know of: the music from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the decades around 1200 AD. The first such pieces were short, but by the fourteenth century Philipppe de Vitry and Guillaume de Machaut were writing longer and more complex works structured on numerical frameworks, culminating in the great isorhythmic motets of the early fifteenth century by Johannes Ciconia, John Dunstaple, and Guillaume Du Fay. Each piece discussed will be performed live by the singers of Pomerium.
Kristina Boerger, Amber Evans, Chloe Holgate, Dominique Surh, Nathaniel Adams, Christopher Preston Thompson, and Michael Steinberger, singers.
Alexander Blachly, lecturer and director.
Additional information on POMERIUM:
POMERIUM, founded by Alexander Blachly in New York in 1972 to perform music composed for the famed chapel choirs of the Renaissance, derives its name from the title of a treatise by the 14th-century music theorist Marchettus of Padua. In the introduction, Marchettus explains that his Pomerium (literally, “garden”) contains the fruits and flowers of the art of music. Widely known for its interpretations of Du Fay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Palestrina, Lassus, and Gesualdo, the modern Pomerium is currently recording a series of compact discs of the masterpieces of
Renaissance a cappella choral music, of which the fifteenth to be recorded, Music for the Tudor
Queens, was released in February 2015.
ALEXANDER BLACHLY has been active in early music as both performer and scholar since
1972. He earned his post-graduate degrees in musicology from Columbia University and is a recipient of the Noah Greenberg Award given by the American Musicological Society to stimulate historically aware performances and the study of historical performing practices.
Prior to assuming the post of Director of Choral Music at the University of Notre Dame in
1993, Mr. Blachly taught early music and directed collegia musica at Columbia University,
Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, Rutgers University, and the University of
Pennsylvania, where for eight years he directed the a cappella ensemble Ancient Voices. In addition to Pomerium, Mr. Blachly directs the University of Notre Dame Chorale and Festival