Cari Musici. (soprano, 2 violins & continuo)

Composer: Bianca Maria Meda (b. 1661 - d. 1733)
Share :


Composer: Bianca Maria Meda (b. 1661 - d. 1733)

Performance date: 30/06/2019

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1661 - 1733

Duration: 00:08:12

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Baroque Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: s-solo, 2vn, vc, hpd

Artists: Ensemble Dagda (Clodagh Kinsella [soprano], Caitríona O'Mahony, Marja Gaynor [violins], Norah O'Leary [cello], Kieran Finnegan [harpsicord]) - [baroque ensemble]

northern Italian convents of the seventeenth-century completely do away
with any image of pious and dutiful nuns making music only as an
element of their spiritual lives. Convents’ musical establishments were
entities in themselves, and valuable. Girls with good voices and skills
were sought after – if a girl of a poorer background could not afford
the dowry to enter a good convent, her musical skills could make up the
difference. However, throughout the seventeenth-century, many of these
convents were beset by various scandals, as the organised church of the
Vatican attempted to regain control of them. Like many of her
contemporary nun-musicians, we have very few details about Bianca Maria
Meda’s life. and her surviving legacy is in her only published music,
her Motetti a 1, 2, 3 e 4 voci published in 1691. Meda’s texts
again are most likely to be from her own hand, and fit in a very organic
way with her settings. Like her fellow nun-composers, particularly
Cozzolani, she expresses a very personal relationship with Christ, and
an ardent love for the figure of Jesus as bridegroom. 

where Meda’s works were published, saw the height of the century’s
scandals – a Sister Semidea Poggi and her colleagues had been
investigated by the Inquisition for summoning the devil by means of
singing, and n the convent of San Lorenzo, the internal struggles which
broke out over music-making were such that the Vatican sent troops to
calm the situation, and were met with curses and later, thrown objects.
Another well-known nun-composer, Lucrezia Orsina Vizzana, was at the
centre of these struggles, and seems to have been driven mad as a
result, dying after being declared insane and forbidden from writing

Meda herself we know only that she entered the Convent of San Martino
del Leano in Pavia at the age of sixteen, the same city that was the
home of the guitarist Francesco Corbetta, Antonia Bembo’s duo partner
and friend. Meda certainly worked as a teacher of music within her own
convent, and the difficulty of the vocal and instrumental lines that she
writes suggest that the musicians in her convent were very skilled.
Coming at the close of the 17th century, Meda’s works are some of the
last works by nun-composers to be published, along with Leonarda’s final
Op.20. The approaching eighteenth century would be the end to the
culture of these cloistered music-makers, or at least to their public
output, perhaps finally bowing to the demands of the Vatican.

Cari musici,

Dear music

cum grato silentio voces

in welcome silence lower your voices

suspendite sonos, cantare

make no noise, sing no more,

et contemplate, dilecte Jesu

And reflect, dear sisters on Jesus’ love.

Non me turbate, no,

Do not disturb me, no beloved ones, harmonious

armonici chori cantare,

Singing choirs, stop.

Quantae deliciae quante
fortunate beant me, rapit meum cor ad se Jesu solus

What delights, what fortunes have blessed me! Jesus alone can draw my
heart to him,

voce amante.

In lover’s tones

Ah! Quid dico!

Ah! What am I saying?

Anima ingrata, in silentio
taciturn amores sponsi audio sepelire?

Do I, ungrateful soul, hear the bridegroom’s love

Ah non tacete,

Ah don’t fall silent,

no o voces canoreae, non

No, melodious voices, don’t.

Amare et silere,

To love and be silent,

cor, tentas impossibile.

You attempt the impossible, my heart.

Plus tormentum sit terriblie

The torment becomes more terrible

quando curat reticere

When it tries to suffer in silence.

Tacere et ardere?

To stay silent and burn?

No, non potes tam

No, you cannot keep silent resolutely.

tuae pene sunt durissimae,

Your punishments are the harder

si tacendo vis languere

When you languish in silence.