Pomerium

Pomerium

Choir

• Founded 1972

Biography

The "garden" or "orchard" of music was the title of a fourteenth-century musical treatise by Marchetus of Padua, who considered his work to present all the flowers and fruits of the art of music. Alexander Blachly adopted this lovely and evocative title for the name of his a cappella singing ensemble, founded in 1972, and devoted to beautiful and sensitive performances of Renaissance polyphony. The group of roughly fifteen singers, based in New York, has recorded on several labels, including Nonesuch, Classical Masters, Dorian Discovery, and Deutsche Grammophon Archiv, while touring widely and appearing at numerous international festivals both in America and Europe. The 1998 album "Creator of the Stars" earned the ensemble a (long overdue) Grammy nomination.

The repertoire for which Pomerium is best known covers many highlights of the musical Renaissance: Guillaume Dufay, Antoine Busnoys, Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin Desprez, Jacob Arcadelt, Adrian Willaert, Orlando di Lasso, Giaches de Wert, Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi. Often, however, within this esteemed list, Pomerium will feature a program of less well-known music. In the case of Dufay, for instance, two successive recordings on the Archiv label present a singular performance of the Mass for St. Anthony of Padua, and the world premiere of a recently-discovered chant cycle for Vespers of the Cambrai Cathedral Marian feast of the Recollectio. Standing squarely in a vaunted tradition of a cappella choral performance, Pomerium brings to all its work a characteristic sonic precision. The choral sound is emotionally reserved, tempo (Alexander Blachly's specialty) is judicious, and "musica ficta" inflections carefully regulated. Intonation, based on careful adjustments by individual voice parts, tends towards the impeccable.

Alexander Blachly, the founder and director of Pomerium, has also served as Director of Choral Music for Notre Dame University since 1993; his prior collegiate posts included Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, Rutgers, and the University of Pennsylvania. He received the American Musicological Society's Noah Greenberg Award in 1992. His professional life has thus been divided between scholarship (especially in the field of fifteenth-century performance practice) and very active performance, both as a choral director and singer. Among the many accomplished singers to perform with Pomerium Musices are Ruth Cunningham and Susan Hellauer (two founders of the Anonymous 4), and countertenor Drew Minter.

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