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Release: Immediate

UI Collegium Musicum will perform medieval to late-Renaissance music for the Virgin Mary

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Collegium Musicum and director Elizabeth Aubrey will present "Mary's Music," a concert of music written for and about the Virgin Mary from the Middle Ages through the late Renaissance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 15 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. The performance will be free and open to the public.

Spanning the 11th through 17th centuries, the program will include a wide variety of styles. There will be medieval chant and other music by anonymous or relatively obscure composers. From the Renaissance there will be music by Guillaume DuFay, Jacob Obrecht and Jean Ockeghem, who are among the most important continental European composers of the 15th century; works of Giovanni Pierluigi da' Palestrina, who has gone into music history as the composer of counterpoint that served as a model for later generations of teachers and students; and Orlando Gibbons, one the greatest English composers and organists of the early 17th century.

In addition to choral works, the concert will include a colorful ensemble of historical instruments -- cornetts, sackbuts, recorders and viols -- playing instrumental versions of the Marian vocal music.

The concert will open with the plainchant "Salve, regina" (Save us, queen), one of four antiphons for Mary that not only played an important role in the medieval liturgy but also served composers of the Renaissance as material for choral music. Acting as a sort of reference point, the plainchant "Salve, regina" will be repeated several times during the course of the concert.

Other medieval music will include a piece by St. Godric, a colorful English merchant, crusader and finally a hermit; a lively Portuguese song recounting how a gambler maliciously damaged a statue of the Virgin and Child, which the Virgin herself miraculously mended; and several haunting Middle English works about Gabriel's annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary, and the sorrow of Mary at the foot of the cross.

Aubrey will be a featured vocalist in several of the medieval works. She has performed medieval music widely in this country and abroad and is a recognized expert in its interpretation. Her book "The Music of the Troubadours," drawing on scholarly research as well as her love of performing the music, was published in 1996 to wide acclaim.

Aubrey, who is head of the Musicology Area in the UI School of Music, has directed the UI Collegium Musicum since 1982. Before coming to the UI in 1982, she taught at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she was music director of the early music group "A Newe Jewell."

The UI Collegium Musicum is an ensemble devoted to the study and performance of music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. The members of the group are music students and faculty of the UI and members of the local community. They learn singing techniques appropriate to early music as well as how to play reproductions of historical instruments.