Daniel Cabena, Luke Hathaway,
Judith Souman & Paul Genyk-Berezowsky
Soft minstrels & mouth minstrels
‘Death, you have wounded with your arrow (navré de ton dart) the father of joy ….’ So begins Johannes Ockeghem’s lamentation for Burgundian composer Gilles Binchois.
This sense of death as something that arrives to us from beyond ourselves is at least as old as the art of archery, which gives it its metaphor. We reach for the same image when we talk about love: ‘Ay me, the fatal arrow / That drives ev'n to the marrow, / Cupid from out his quiver / Hath pluck’d and pierc’d my liver’ (thus Thomas Morley).
The arrows of love and death can arrive with catastrophic power — but they also have the power to release us from the bonds of a situation that has become untenable: Love, deliver me from out of the bonds of Death, someone might pray; or, one the other hand, Death, deliver me from out of the bonds of love.
Using songs of Gilles Binchois and John Bedyngham, with their associated parody Masses — and new adaptations of poetry by Christine de Pizan — this program tells a late-medieval transition story, which is also a story of the progress of love, both sacred and profane.
It’s time for me to put in words —
as once I told you that I would —
the narrative of how I came
(when I returned to Fortune’s home)
to be transformed into a man.
My name is Christian de Pizan.…