A Nov. 11 master class for early music vocalists and instrumentalists, a Nov. 14 pre-concert talk by a guest scholar and a Nov. 14 performance of Monteverdi’s “Vespers” (1610) -- celebrating the 400th anniversary of one of the greatest choral and instrumental works of all time -- are all part of the 2010 Evelyn Dunbar Early Music Festival.

The annual festival is presented by the Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

“Monteverdi submitted his “Vespers” of 1610 as part of his application for the position of choir master at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, a position he won in 1613,” said Stephen W. Alltop, director of chapel music for Northwestern’s Alice Millar Chapel and Religious Center. “Virtually every predominant style of sacred music from that time is represented in the ‘Vespers.’ With the masterpieces of Bach and Handel, ’Vespers” is considered the greatest sacred music ever composed.”

Open to the public, the Monteverdi-themed festival’s three events will take place in venues on the University’s Evanston campus, as noted.

  • Master Class for Singers and Instrumentalists at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, in Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place. The master class will focus on 17th century composer Claudio Monteverdi’s monumental multi-movement work “Vespro della Beata Virgine” (1610) and his “Settimo Libro de Madrigali” (“Seventh Book of madrigals”). Students from the Bienen School of Music and community performers of early music are invited to receive feedback from a distinguished panel of experts. Those interested in performing should contact Stephen Alltop at (847) 491-2299 by Nov. 4. Admission is free.
  • Dunbar Early Music Festival Pre-Concert Talk by Jonathan Glixon, 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, Vail Chapel1870 Sheridan Road. Guest scholar Jonathan Glixon, Provost’s Distinguished Professor of Musicology at the University of Kentucky, will give a talk on “Monteverdi and his Venice,” an hour prior to the Nov. 14 performance of “Vespro della Beata Virgine” (1610). Vail Chapel is adjacent to Alice Millar Chapel, across the courtyard to the east. Admission is free.
  • A performance of Monteverdi’s “Vespro della Beata Virgine” (1610), at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, in Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road. Monteverdi’s Vespers for the Blessed Virgin” (1610) is the largest-scale religious composition of the pre-Bach era. “The ‘Vespers’ movements range from solos with simple accompaniment to complex two-part psalm settings for double chorus. Featuring intimate prayerful moments and secular music, its movements include sonata, motet, hymn, psalm and Gregorian chant. The 90-minute piece will feature a chorus of approximately 60 singers, 20 instrumentalists, more than 20 vocal soloists and numerous instrumental solos. Guest musicians Kiri Tollaksen, a cornetto player, and Greg Ingles, a sackbut player, are two of the nation’s most accomplished performers of 17th century music. Northwestern’s Stephen W. Alltop will conduct the Baroque Music Ensemble, Dunbar Festival Orchestra and Alice Millar Chapel Choir in the performance. Tickets are $9 for the general public; $7 for seniors and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $5 for students with valid IDs.

The Evelyn Dunbar Early Music Festival was founded in 1998 through a generous gift of Ruth Dunbar Davee, in memory of her sister Evelyn. Its purpose is to combine informed performance and scholarly inquiry.

  • Dunbar Festival
  • Stephen Alltop