The Gonzaga Band

The Gonzaga Band was formed by cornettist Jamie Savan in 1997, with a mission to explore the intimate relationship between vocal and instrumental performance practice in the Early Modern period. The ensemble takes its name from the ducal family of Mantua: the Gonzagas were powerful and influential patrons of the arts in the late Renaissance, who employed Claudio Monteverdi as their maestro della musica at the turn of the seventeenth century. Monteverdi wrote some of his most innovative music for the Gonzagas: his third, fourth and fifth books of madrigals, the operas Orfeo and Arianna, and of course the Vespers of 1610.

Performing most often as a chamber ensemble with a core of soprano voice, cornett and keyboards, and expanding on occasion according to the particular requirements of each programme, The Gonzaga Band is thus able to perform in a variety of combinations, ranging from a trio to a full period-instrument orchestra and vocal consort. The Gonzaga Band is renowned for its innovative programming, underpinned by cutting-edge research, which continually shines new light on the repertoire and its interpretation.

The Gonzaga Band has three CDs to its credit, each of which was released to international critical acclaim. Sacred Garland (2009) and Chamber Vespers (2011) were released on the Chandos label; 2018 saw the beginning of a new relationship with Resonus Classics with the release of Venice 1629. The Gonzaga Band’s fourth album, exploring the Vespers music of Amadio Freddi, will be released in August 2019.

Panel 1

People

Jamie Savan – director, cornett / mute cornett

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Jamie Savan is director of the Gonzaga Band, and is lucky enough to combine his performing career with an academic position as Professor of Performance-led Research at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He is also active as a solo recitalist, as a chamber musician with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts and as an orchestral principal with the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. He has performed with many other of the world’s leading period-instrument ensembles, including Concerto Palatino, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and Bach Collegium Japan to name but a few, and enjoys exploring the many facets of his instrument, ranging from Renaissance improvisation techniques to new music for cornett and live electronics.

 

Faye Newton – soprano

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Faye Newton enjoys a diverse repertoire spanning some six centuries and embracing many aspects of the solo voice, from intimate lute-song recitals and consort singing to baroque opera and collaborations with some of the leading orchestras and choirs on the European scene for historically-informed performance. For much of the past decade she has performed as a soloist with the New London Consort, most notably at the BBC Proms and in Jonathan Miller’s productions of Monteverdi’s ‘Orfeo’, and Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’, delighting audiences across four continents. Faye can often be heard performing solo-voice Bach Cantatas with the Feinstein Ensemble at St Martin in the Fields and the Southbank Centre, London. Faye has a particular love for the music of Monteverdi and his contemporaries and in addition to her work with The Gonzaga Band she features on Andrew Parrott’s recording of Monteverdi’s Orfeo released in 2013, singing the role of ‘Euridice’ opposite Charles Daniels in the title role. Other notable recordings include ‘The Language of Love’, songs of the troubadour and trouvères with Duo Trobairitz, released by Hyperion and selected as American Record Guide Choice of 2007; music by Giovanni Battista Grillo with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts; and a recent recording of English rounds and grounds entitled ‘Twenty waies upon the Bels’ with Pellingmans’ Saraband.

 

Steven Devine – harpsichord / organ

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Steven Devine enjoys a busy career as a music director and keyboard player working with some of the finest musicians. He is the co-principal keyboard player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and also the principal keyboard player for The Gonzaga Band, Apollo and Pan, The Classical Opera Company and performs regularly with many other groups internationally. He has numerous solo recordings to his credit, including Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Chandos) hailed by Gramophone as “among the best”, and a three-CD set of the complete harpsichord works of Rameau (Resonus) which received five-star reviews from the BBC Music Magazine. Steven’s latest solo project with Resonus Classics is Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, of which Book 1 was recorded and released earlier in 2019.

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Projects

Amadio Freddi: Vespers (1616)

Continuing our exploration of lesser-known composers in the Venetian orbit, we are delighted to present the Vespers music of Amadio Freddi, maestro di cappella of Treviso Cathedral during Monteverdi’s tenure at St Mark’s, Venice. This music was published in 1616 by the Venetian press of Ricciardo Amadino – the same publisher as for Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers. But this is no mere imitation Monteverdi: Freddi is a fascinating composer with a unique voice, and his music is in many ways ahead of its time. It is perhaps the first to integrate trio sonata textures with the concertato motet, setting a trend that was to define the Venetian style a decade later. Freddi’s Vespers is smaller in scale than Monteverdi’s famous 1610 setting, but is no less virtuosic in its demands for vocal consort and sparkling obbligato writing for cornett and violin.

Requirements: 6 solo voices, violin, cornett, organ

Also possible as a collaborative performance with professional and amateur choirs. We can supply the performing scores, instrumentalists and vocal soloists: please contact us to discuss the options.

World premiere recording coming soon on the Resonus Classics label.

Gonzaga Freddi montage

The Freddi Vespers team (top to bottom, L to R): Faye Newton, Mark Chambers, William Gaunt, Oliver Webber, Jamie Savan, Tim Travers-Brown, Thomas Herford, Steven Harrold, Steven Devine.

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Venice 1629

Venetian music for solo voice, cornetts and violins by Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Grandi, Dario Castello, Biagio Marini, Orazio Tarditi, Benedetto Re.

1629 was a remarkable year for the publication of new music in Venice. Foremost among the musical offerings that year was the first book of Symphoniae Sacrae by Heinrich Schütz, who had come to Venice to learn of the latest developments in modern music from Claudio Monteverdi, then maestro di cappella at St Mark’s. But it was perhaps the music of Alessandro Grandi, Monteverdi’s erstwhile deputy, that was to have the most profound influence on Schütz. Grandi was a specialist in the small-scale, writing monody in the most modern rhetorical style together with ritornelli for two violins, thus introducing aspects of the trio sonata into the genre. Grandi left Venice for Bergamo in 1627, but kept his ties with Venice and published his third and final book of concertato motets there in 1629. His contribution to the development of sacred music was to have a lasting influence in Venice and far beyond for generations to come.

Coincidentally, 1629 also saw the publication of two landmark collections in the development of virtuosic instrumental music in the emerging baroque style. Dario Castello, a leading wind player at St Mark’s, published his second volume of Sonate concertate in stil moderno, while Biagio Marini, a virtuoso violinist who had also been in the employ of St Mark’s in the early years of Monteverdi’s tenure, published his seminal Op.8, in which we see the beginnings of a clear distinction in idiomatic writing for cornetto and violin (instruments which in many previous publications had been considered interchangeable).

Finally, Claudio Monteverdi himself is represented in Lorenzo Calvi’s 1629 anthology, Quarta raccolta de’ sacri canti, the unique source for Exulta filia Sion, a solo-voice motet which draws together some of the most progressive compositional devices of the day: dramatic recitative, dance-influenced triple-time arioso, and ground bass patterns. Our programme offers a choice selection from each of these publications, as a series of snapshots from an extraordinary year in the life of this most musical of cities. This programme is a celebration of the high-water mark of Venetian chamber music, prior to the plague of 1630-1 that was to wipe out the famed cornett virtuosi of the city for a generation.

Requirements:

Solo soprano (Faye Newton)

2 cornetts (Jamie Savan, director; Helen Roberts)

2 violins (Oliver Webber; Theresa Caudle)

Organ / harpsichord (Steven Devine)

Gonzaga Band group black & white

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Recordings

Amadio Freddi: Vespers (1616)

Coming soon! Release date: 30 August 2019 on Resonus Classics

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Continuing our exploration of lesser-known music in the Venetian orbit, we are thrilled to present this word premiere recording of music by Amadio Freddi, maestro di cappella of Treviso Cathedral during Monteverdi’s tenure at St Mark’s, Venice.

Faye Newton – soprano, Mark Chambers – countertenor, Tim Travers-Brown – countertenor, Steven Harrold – tenor, Thomas Herford – tenor, William Gaunt – bass, Oliver Webber – violin, Jamie Savan – cornett, Steven Devine – organ.

 

Venice 1629

Released 29 June 2018 on Resonus Classics

Venice 1629 CD (including P&P)

If you'd like to order a copy of Venice 1629 here the proceeds will go directly towards our next recording.

£12.99

Venice 1629 album cover

1629 was a remarkable year for new music in Venice. Heinrich Schütz came to the city to learn of the new Italian style from Claudio Monteverdi and his contemporaries, publishing his seminal first volume of Symphoniae sacrae during his visit. Further innovative collections from Dario Castello, Alessandro Grandi and Biagio Marini contributed to this pivotal moment in the development of the early Baroque style. Acclaimed period ensemble The Gonzaga Band makes its Resonus debut with a fascinating programme that encapsulates an extraordinary year in the life of this most musical of cities.

Faye Newton – soprano, Jamie Savan – cornett/director, Helen Roberts – cornett, Oliver Webber – violin, Theresa Caudle – violin/cornett, Steven Devine – organ/harpsichord.

Chamber Vespers

Chandos / Chaconne, 2011 – listen to extracts on the Chandos website.

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“Congregations in 17th-century Ancona or Bologna would have been lucky indeed to hear instrumental playing remotely as vivid as the Gonzaga Band’s”, Gramophone

“Savan and company have an instinctive feel for this repertoire, their persuasive performances delivered with terrific flair and panache”, BBC Music.

Sacred Garland

Chandos / Chaconne, 2009: listen to extracts on the Chandos website.

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“Faultless and fascinating”, Gramophone

Sacred Garland …is one of those discs which so perfectly seems to capture an entire lost world in microcosm.” International Record Review

“CD of the Week”, ABC Classic FM Radio, Australia

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Contact

Please use the form below if you’d like to get in touch with The Gonzaga Band.