O Let Me Weep: Distressed Women in Music, 1650-1750

This is a concert revolving around musical characterization of women alarmed, despairing, and under pressure. The programís centerpiece is Antonia Padoani Bemboís extraordinary depiction of an enraged Juno from the composerís 1707 Ercole Amante. This aria, along with Bemboís other intimate and dramatic portraits in song, is unveiled in Claire Fontijnís award-winning 2006 book, Desperate Measures: The Life and Music of Antonia Padoani Bembo. Other surrounding portraits will include Bemboís Santa Regina, Handelís Armida Abbandonata, Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerreís Judith, Purcellís Blessed Virgin, Biberís Annunciation, and Barbara Strozzi as her lamenting, discontented, and changeable self. The ensembleís performance of Junoís aria by Bembo will be the first opportunity for the vast majority of listeners to hear this composition, as it hasn't been performed in the United States by a prominent professional ensemble. Through this program, Ceciliaís Circle aims to place Bemboís expressive and deeply individualistic output into the elevating company of her contemporaries.

One Rose, One Lily: Barbara Strozzi & Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

At this point in the recovery and elevation of significant women composers, Barbara Strozzi (1619-1664) and Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729) scarcely need any introduction (what a wonderful sentence to be able to write, after ten years of presenting their works!). The passionate and intimate knowledge Cecilia's Circle has developed of the work of these two women, unquestionably among the great composers of their respective days, warrants a concert devoted solely to their music. Barbara Strozzi's works include the inspired Salve Regina, her dramatic Lagrime Mie, and other lamenting, sensual and sardonic songs. Judith, Jacquet de La Guerre's cantata (on our CD) will be performed in its entirety, as will her Violin Sonata in D minor, along with preludes for harpsichord and excerpts from her secular cantata The Isle of Delos.

Women Making Music in the Sacred Tradition

Cecilia's Circle presents a recital on sacred music by women, from the 11th century Benedictine mystic Hildegard von Bingen to the masses and motets of masterful baroque composers Francesca Caccini, Caterina Assandra, Isabella Leonarda, and Elisabeth Claude Jacquet de La Guerre. Commentary will focus on the contexts in which these women were inspired to compose their songs of praise, the degree to which their sacred output was recognized (or not) by mainstream musical institutions and "masters", and the effect that their particular experiences had on their musical styles and ideas.

In the Glow of the Sun King: Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre and her Contemporaries

A program drawing on the powerful current of vocal and instrumental innovation running through the reign of Louis XIV, with a special focus on "the marvel of her century", Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre. Amidst stunning chamber works of Couperin, Campra, and Mondonville, La Guerre's cantatas, sonatas, and harpsichord pieces shine through vibrantly. This program incorporates Julie Andrijeski's elegant dance of the French Baroque.

"Of Mothers Most Blessed" : Celebrating the Virgin Mary in Song and Sonata

Cecilia's Circle surveys through performance the stunning spectrum of the Virgin's musical portraits in the Baroque. The program encompasses the most introspective first-person telling of her torment (Purcell); two contrasting yet equally intimate renderings of the ritual plea to her for salvation (Strozzi and Handel); Biber's eerie exploration of her crucial moment through extreme instrumental techniques and colors; and the gentlest, most vivid depiction of the young mother's first moments with her child (Bembo). In such a program, the ensemble draws upon its greatest giftóthe ability to embody and speak musically from the experience of saints, heroines and other passionate personalities.