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Decoding Microtonal Gregorian Chant, Middelburg and Utrecht, March 6 & 9, 2019


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Middelburg bachelor students in the humanities and experienced singers of Gregorian chant in Utrecht where my audiences this week. Ash-Wednesday for students in the Netherlands means hardship if they have to attend lectures like these: Mardi-gras in close-by Breda is famous…… Nevertheless, intelligent questions and no snoring (not bothersome, at least).

Today, in Utrecht I met with soulmates, singers listening and performing. Amici Cantus Gregoriani organized its annual venue in a splendid setting: the 12th century Pieterskerk.

The Utrecht Gregorian Choir conducted by Anthony Zielhorst sang three responsories in a transcription including microtones and quilisma’s as notated in the 12th-century Utrecht Antiphonary U406: Sicut Ovis, Ecce quomodo, Plange quasi virgo. I will post the recordings soon.

Enthusiastic reactions about this “reasoned experiment” and about my interpretation of the encoded rhetorical content of these musemes. “I always felt there was more in Gregorian chant than the traditional interpretations, this is what I have been waiting for” a visitor told me. “Touching, this interpretation of Ecce quomodo” said Marcel Zijlstra, conductor of the Schola Cantorum Amsterdam.

Looking forward to presentations for “Gregorian audiences” elsewhere!

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