Cappella Pratensis

Stratton Bull (artistic director)

 

The Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis – literally ‘Cappella des prés’ – champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programmes and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight. As in Josquin’s time, the members of Cappella Pratensis perform from a central music stand, singing from the original mensural notation scored in a large choirbook. This approach, together with attention to the linguistic origin of the compositions and the modal system on which it is based, offers a unique perspective on the repertoire. Founded in 1987, Cappella Pratensis is now under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull.

 

Besides regular appearances at concert venues in the Netherlands and Belgium, Cappella Pratensis has performed at leading international festivals in Utrecht, York, Regensburg, Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Knechtsteden and Brežice. Tours have taken the group to the United States (including a week in residence at Harvard University), Canada and Japan. Cappella Pratensis has also made a series of CD recordings that have met with critical acclaim and distinctions from the press (including the Diapason d’Or and the Prix Choc). From 2005 to 2007, the group was ensemble-in-residence at the Fondation Royaumont (France), where it gave courses, presented concerts and worked with distinguished musicians. In 2008 Cappella Pratensis premiered a complete polyphonic mass (Missa Unitatis) by the award-winning British composer Antony Pitts. In 2009 the ensemble released a DVD/CD production around the Missa de Sancto Donatiano by Jacob Obrecht, which included a reconstruction of the first performance of the mass, filmed on location in Bruges together with substantial documentary material. This production was crowned with a Diapason découverte and the highest rating from Classica magazine. The CD Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope (2010), with guest conductor Joshua Rifkin, received a Diapason d’Or. The group also collaborated with conductor Bo Holten in 2010 on a program featuring the Requiem by Pierre de la Rue. A DVD of this Requiem, recorded live in the cathedral of ’s-Hertogenbosch, was made as part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch. The ensemble’s most recent recording presents the two earliest surviving polyphonic Requiems by Johannes Ockeghem and Pierre de La Rue and has met with widespread critical acclaim.

 

Cappella Pratensis passes on insights into vocal polyphony and performance from original notation – both among professionals and amateurs – through masterclasses, multi-media presentations, collaboration with institutions, an annual summer course as part of the Laus Polyphoniae festival in Antwerp, and training young singers within the group itself. The ensemble is also a partner with the universities of Leuven and Oxford in the digitization and valorization of all the brilliant musical sources made in the workshops of the early sixteenth-century music scribe Petrus Alamire.

 

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