Boston Renaissance choir Blue Heron performs

blue heron group

The Humanities Program Concert Series at Saint Michael's College presents Blue Heron, the acclaimed Renaissance choir from Boston, in a concert titled, "Divine Songs," on Monday, March 25 at 7:30 in the McCarthy Arts Center. The concert, sponsored by the SMC vanderHeyden Endowment in Fine Arts, Humanities Center, Medieval Studies Minor, and Office of the President, launches the Saint Michael's College Humanities Center and is free and open to the public.

"Divine Songs" features sacred and secular music of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497), one of the greatest composers of all time, who is, however, unknown to many listeners today. His fascinating sacred music has been characterized as mystical. His songs, each one called a gem of invention, can be funny, heart wrenching, or profound.

About Blue Heron

A 2011 article by Alex Ross in The New Yorker brought national attention to Blue Heron for their "fine gradations of dynamics, pungent diction, telling contrasts of ethereal and earthy timbres, tempos that are more lusty than languid, a way of propelling a phrase toward a goal." Blue Heron’s founder and director, Scott Metcalfe, is a Burlington, VT, native who specialized in Baroque violin before immersing himself in the Renaissance.

Describing Blue Heron's Ockeghem program, Jeremy Eichler wrote in The Boston Globe, "The music of this Franco-Flemish master unspools in a dazzling maze of crisscrossing lines, magnificent in their complexity and austere beauty."

He added, "Follow the patterns closely and they are mind-bending; soften the focus of your concentration and this spacious music washes over you, as entrancing as a majestic cathedral... Under the artistic leadership of [Burlington’s own] Scott Metcalfe, the performances were handsomely polished and beautifully delivered, with keen attention paid to the clarity of interplay among voices."

The Humanities at Saint Michael's

The evening concert will cap the festivities celebrating the creation of a new Humanities Center at Saint Michael's College. Also part of the inaugural events on March 25 is a short program and reception earlier that day featuring a lecture by Dr. Tom Simone of the University of Vermont English Department. His talk, titled "The Humanities: Tradition and the Future," is at 4:30 p.m. in the Saint Edmund's Hall Farrell Room (#315).

The Humanities has been part of the Saint Michael's College curriculum for half a century. Interdisciplinary in approach, the program focuses on principal issues and trends that have shaped cultural and intellectual developments from Antiquity to the 20th Century.

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