The Rose Ensemble: Il Poverello
September 29, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. —
The Rose Ensemble has just released their ninth recording. It celebrates the life of the twelfth-century luminary St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis was born Giovanni Francesco Bernardone and gave up a life of privilege for the materially impoverished life of a monk. He later founded an order of friars known as the Franciscans.
The patron saint of animals, St. Francis is also the patron of Italy. But his influence was felt well beyond the borders of Assisi and Italy. At Notre Dame in Paris, a group of educated (and perhaps inebriated) monks wrote poetic lines about his life that have a lusty musical setting.
In fact, the recording starts off with a rustic, up-beat feel. The Rose Ensemble Artistic Director Jordan Sramek says he wanted to take the listener back in time to the secular life of Francis before taking his vow of poverty.
Medieval composers penned some of the most transcendent chant for the Feast of St. Francis - colored and improvised by The Rose Ensemble. Hundreds of years later in the Renaissance, complicated polyphony tells the story of the last moments of Francis' life rife with word-painting.
It is thought that a Franciscan wrote the most famous lines of medieval text, the Stabat Mater, words that have been set by composers as far-ranging as Pergolesi, Schubert, Verdi and Dvorak. The Rose Ensemble sings the words simply with harp underscoring the deep, personal grief of the mother of Jesus at the cross.
The Rose Ensemble collaborates with a young early-instrument practitioner they met at a festival in Italy. Full of life, Isacco Colombo says "he fell in love" with The Rose Ensemble after they arranged a little jam session.
Isacco plays bagpipes, shawn, tabor and fife (the latter two at the same time) on the disc and in concert with the Rose Ensemble this weekend.
Jordan Sramek: Founder/Artistic Director of The Rose Ensemble, Jordan Sramek studied early vocal performance and harpsichord at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and through the years has spent time learning from such medieval music experts as Benjamin Bagby and Eric Mentzel of Sequentia, Dom. Daniel Saulnier at the Abbey of Solesmes (France), and Margriet Tindemans and Crawford Young. He is highly respected for his meticulous research of music rarely heard in the concert hall, and frequently travels to conduct this research, most recently visiting manuscript libraries in France, Ireland, Canada, Sweden and Hawaii.
Isacco Colombo: Born in Milan in 1975, Isacco Colombo began his musical education at a very young age. After graduating with a degree in Oboe Performance from G. Nicolini Conservatory in Piacenza, Isacco focused his artistic interests on ancient music. In 1998, he enrolled at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland and graduated in 2003 with a degree in Medieval and Renaissance music. Isacco now enjoys an active career as a freelance musician, collaborating with numerous ensembles, particularly with Medieval and Renaissance specialists in Italy and Europe, including Scuola di Canto Medievale, Florilegio Ensemble, Concento de' Pifari, Curtes Francae, Accademia Viscontea, Ensemble Micrologus, and Renaidanse. Isacco Colombo is the founder and director of Collinetto wind ensemble.