Friday, March 2: LA MORRA Tears Of A Lion: A Secret Concert For Pope Leo X

Friday, March 2, 2012
Tears Of A Lion: A Secret Concert For Pope Leo X

Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 7:30 p.m.
6221 Main Street, Houston, TX 77030

Pre-concert talk at 6:45 p.m.
La Morra ensemble members

Individual tickets are $35 for general admission, $30 for seniors, and $10 for students with ID. Free admission is available for children under 15. For tickets call (281) 846-4222 or click below.


Houston Early Music is pleased to introduce this exciting young Swiss ensemble in its first visit to Texas. While remembered for his extravagant lifestyle, Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was a noteworthy patron of arts and a man of great sensitivity for music. Himself a competent composer, Leo X clearly had a weakness for good musicians and his rise to the peak of ecclesiastical power brought about a true (albeit short) Golden Age for many of them. Follow LA MORRA to Pope’s private chamber for an intimate concert performed by the best of the pontiff’s “secret musicians.” Music by Pope Leo, Tromboncine, Encina, Francisco de la Torre, and others.

Mainly known for his extravagant lifestyle financed by the sale of indulgences — indeed, it was these that prompted Martin Luther to open protest — Pope Leo X (1513-1521) loved the arts, especially music. So sensitive to music was he that he was observed by a composer named Carpentras to weep “pious tears” when listening to religious polyphony.

A member of the famous Medici family of Florence, Leo X was raised in an atmosphere of humanism and artistic appreciation, and he both played and composed music. He also surrounded himself with a select group of musicians known as the musici segreti (secret musicians) who played only for him, and those lucky enough to be invited to these private performances.

“With our program we would like to evoke an atmosphere of such a private performance,” said La Morra co-director Michal Gondko. “Although our choice of repertory is hypothetical, we have cast our net wide to draw as many true gems as possible from the extraordinarily rich musical culture of the early Italian Renaissance.”

Included on the program are works by many composers whose names may be little known to the general public. A wide range of offerings will be presented by the likes of Bartolomeo Tromboncino, Benedetto Gareth, Sebastiano Festa, Francesco da Milano, Juan del Encina, Guglielmo Ebreo and Nicolas Craen. “Those men composed some of the most extraordinary music of their time,” said Gondko, who researched the program at the venerable early music academy Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle, where La Morra resides.

Listeners will hear madrigals, chansons, frottole and instrumental pieces performed on instruments of the period. Performers include Michal Gondko (viola da mano, chitarrino and drum), co-director Corina Marti (flutes), Ryosuke Sakamoto (lute), Tore Eketorp (viola d’arco) and Giovanni Cantarini (voice). The secret musicians may even debut a “new” chanson by Leo X, who famously said, “Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it!”

Listen to recordings

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