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   Author  Topic: Heinavanker, “Ancient Songs, Chants, & Hymns”  (Read 1136 times)
Charles Q. Sullivan
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Heinavanker, “Ancient Songs, Chants, & Hymns”
« on: Sep 30th, 2013, 3:47pm »
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Early Music Now
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
 
Contact: Charles Q. Sullivan  |  414.225.3113  |  info@earlymusicnow.org
 
 
Early Music Now Presents Heinavanker, “Ancient Songs, Chants, & Hymns”
 
Milwaukee’s premier presenter of Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque music, Early Music Now, kicks off its official 27th season at 5:00 pm Saturday, October 12th at the historic St. Joseph Center Chapel, 1501 South Layton Boulevard, with a program of Estonian choral music performed by the young Estonian vocal ensemble, Heinavanker (heinavanker.ee).
 
“Ancient Songs, Chants, and Hymns” highlights Estonian folk hymns, along with a rare glimpse into the ancient tradition of runic songs, interspersed with movements from several 14th-century settings of the Latin Mass. The seven-voice choir, directed by composer Margo Kolar, explores early sacred music and ancient Estonian traditions in this a cappella presentation.
 
The rich, colorful and imaginative texts of these songs provide a welcome supplement to the scarce knowledge available about Estonia’s ancient history. The origin of the folk hymn tradition is still obscure, but there is enough evidence to assume a spiritual connection to the movement of 18th-century Herrnhut (Moravian) Brethren, which triggered a powerful wave of pietism among the rural population. The other influence most probably originated from the population of Swedish settlers on Estonian islands and coastal areas – their strong cultural identity most certainly had an impact on the way their neighboring Estonians perceived the wider world. In fact, one could claim that the melismatic character of folk hymns derives directly from Scandinavian folk music, as the runic songs (regilaul) – the old songs of Finno-Ugric origin – obviously belong to a different cultural context.
 
The geographical location of Estonia has left its specific mark on the history of this small fraction of a nation. This “strategically attractive” piece of land has witnessed the conflicting political interests of Vikings, Germans, Swedes, Danes, Slavic nations, and others. Estonia is also a cross-road between the influences of Eastern and Western Christian churches. Already at the beginning of the second millennium, the local tribes with their animistic world view and ancestor worship constituted a barrier to the expanding influence of the Popes of Rome as well as to the Orthodox patriarchs. During the recent 50 years, as part of the Soviet Union, atheism has been the main religion in Estonia, aiming to blur the memory of Estonian identity as well as the influence of the Christian Church.
 
The name “Heinavanker” originates from Hieronymos Bosch’s Haywain Triptych. On this strange painting, there’s a huge stack of hay rolling through a land laboring in acquisitiveness towards destruction. In the midst of this, there is music, and a snide demon and a praying angel try to influence the musicians.
 
St. Joseph Center Chapel is the perfect venue for this concert, as its acoustics provide an exceptional environment for experiencing sacred music. Since the 1970s, this Milwaukee landmark has been a favorite setting for choral and instrumental concerts.  The chapel was dedicated in 1917, and is Romanesque in style and cruciform in design. It is 200 feet long and 90 feet wide at its greatest breadth, with the dome rising 70 feet above the sanctuary.  Features include 15 kinds of marble, 115 Austrian stained-glass windows, and several mosaics.  
 
Tickets for this 5:00 concert are $25-$40 for adults and seniors, $10-$20 for students, and are available online at EarlyMusicNow.org, by phone at 414.225.3113, or from Early Music Now at 759 N Milwaukee St – Ste 420, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
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