Salomone Rossi was a highly respected Jewish composer and principal violinist in the court of Mantua, working alongside Claudio Monteverdi in the decades either side of 1600. Today, it is Rossi’s famous colleague who enjoys the spotlight, with L’Orfeo (premiered in Mantua in 1607) celebrated as a quality marker for the start of opera. Its scoring requires a sizeable group of immensely sensitive musicians who were asked to play with “much invention and variety” and Rossi would have been an inspiring leader in such an ensemble – a first among equals. No doubt because of this, he was one of a select number Jews permitted by the ruling elite not to wear a star of David on his clothing.
In the same year as the premiere of Monteverdi’s opera, Rossi published the first of four collections of instrumental music that would set a new precedent for pieces in trio texture – two treble instruments and a harmonised bass line. Years later, having composed a large number of secular songs and madrigals as was fashionable throughout Europe, Rossi published another groundbreaking volume: Ha-shirim asher li-Shlomo or The Songs of Solomon (a pun on his name and The Song of Solomon). In it he set psalms and other sacred Hebrew texts to music in a contemporary style, something that had never been done before.
A 400TH YEAR CELEBRATION
Exactly 400 years ago, this novel experiment in cultural synthesis is a key moment in our shared history that deserves celebration. Alongside selections of Rossi’s instrumental music, our programmes will pair sacred and secular vocal pieces by Rossi with settings of the same texts by other 17th-century composers in their own vernaculars, including Heinrich Schütz, William Byrd, and Claudio Monteverdi. It will be a celebration not just of the communicative and political power of language, but also of Rossi set deservedly in the company of the famed composers of his time.
This project is generously supported by The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, The Golsoncott Foundation, Shoresh Charitable Trust, Ruth and Martin Dunitz, Jeremy Lewison, Tony Stoller, and Vassilina Bindley.
6pm Saturday 4 November
at The Vache, HP8 4SD
VBFriends Dinner Concert
A Jewish-Italian culinary feast will be interspersed with a musical menu of sacred and secular vocal pieces by Salomone Rossi and his contemporaries from across Europe. A unique opportunity to hear passionate madrigals, lamenting solo songs, and joyful prayers in a historical, intimate setting whilst enjoying a gourmet dinner prepared by acclaimed chef Adam Nathan.
7.30pm Saturday 11 November
at Belsize Square Synagogue, NW3 4HX
An intimate programme of madrigals and solo songs by Rossi and his contemporaries. As with all our events, this concert is open to people of all faiths or of none.
7.30pm Wednesday 13 December
at St John’s Smith Square, SW1P 3HA
Hanukkah Celebration feat. La Vaghezza Ensemble
£6 / £10 / £20 / £30
>> NEW #ROSSI400 VIDEOS:
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NEW #ROSSI400 VIDEOS: WATCH NOW
To contextualise the secular vocal music composed by Salomone Rossi in the decades before the publication of The Songs of Solomon, we have created two madrigal music videos – one by Rossi, the other by the English composer Thomas Weelkes (a fan of Rossi who died 400 years ago this year).
Birdgang Ltd dancers tell these stories of love and loss through Ukweli Roach’s choreography, backed by five Vache Baroque singers, a chitarrone, and a harpsichord. Filmmaker Hannah Lovell completes the creative team.
VACHE BAROQUE SINGERS
Vache Baroque is proud to count among its network of singers the finest vocalists of Baroque-era music in the UK. From English, Italian, and French opera, to cantata, solo song, and madrigal repertory, artistic director Jonathan Darbourne invites singers whose talents match the demands of our programmes. For the intimate smaller-scale programme, five leading consort singers and a chitarrone/Baroque guitar player will perform, joined by a further three singers and La Vaghezza for the full concert programme.
La Vaghezza are an award-winning trio sonata ensemble playing music from the 17th and early 18th Centuries, with a special interest in the unpredictability, extravagance, originality and freedom found in 17th-century Italian music.
Their debut CD ‘Sculpting the Fabric‘ (2021) features three instrumental movements by Rossi.
“Played… sensually, racingly, poignantly” ★★★★★ Klassik
“Enviable instrumental quality… a total freedom in tone” ★★★★★ On.Mag
“Keeps the listener continuously on the edge of their seat. A great debut album” ★★★★★ Rondo
BirdGang Ltd is an award-winning UK-based creative company with Hip Hop dance art forms as the foundation of their DNA. They choreograph, perform, teach and produce avant-garde dance content for stage, theatre, TV, film and live events.
With roots in Hip Hop culture and extensive experience in musical theatre and commercial dance forms, they are known for their high-quality, impactful content, performances and educational sessions. Their clients include large brands like Nike and Bose, artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Jungle and Kyan, theatre companies such as Sadler’s Wells, Stanley Arts, and students from around the world.
7.30pm Saturday 9 September
at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, NW8 7HA
The concert was held in memory of Andy Stoller (1949-2022)
An intimate programme of madrigals and solo songs by Rossi and his contemporaries. This event was free to attend and open to people of all faiths or of none.