Dr. Hendrik Elie Vanden Abeele: ‘The Salzinnes Antiphonal: the Musician’s Perspective’. Saturday 6 May 2017, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada.
Hendrik Vanden Abeele, artistic director of the Belgian chant group Psallentes, talks about performance practice aspects of the Salzinnes Antiphonal. At first glance, a plainchant score may look quite simple and straightforward. But today’s chant singer considering a performance practice for late medieval chant is faced with many challenges. These include questions concerning language and vocal techniques, such as the possible pronunciations of Latin, or use of voice and pitch; issues such as rhythm, metre, tempo and phrasing; contextual considerations such as the composition of the ensemble, the place and time of performance; and repertoire matters, such as the transmission of the old repertoire and the making of new repertoire, the use of simple polyphony, and the interaction of chant and polyphony.
The many challenges and obstacles faced may turn into opportunities, where the performer will have to fill in the blanks with his or her own ideas, colours and textures. He/she may even be tempted to draw outside the lines, countering any practical or historical constraints in a creative way.
The lecture offers a present-day mapping of our relationship with plainchant performance practices, trying to make sense of its contradictions. The lecture will be lavishly illustrated, with the audience being invited to sing along.