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Sonetti Spirituale

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In June, 2017, Nota Bene viol consort ( )was joined by guest Julie Jeffrey and a splendid quintet of singers to do a deep dive into Pietro Vinci's 1580 book of sacred madrigals: Sonetti Spirituale, settings of fourteen passionate and ecstatic sonnets by Vittoria Colonna, the quintessential Renaissance Woman.

The result of our week-long retreat was a multi-media performance of the complete book of madrigals, featuring contemporary artwork and dramatic readings of Colonna's words, both in English and Italian.

Vinci's publication of these madrigals in Venice coincided with the flourishing of stringed-instrument building in Northern Italy, centered in the city of Brescia. There the Micheli family (know by the name of Zanetto) produced the viola da gamba which became the model for the full set of Renaissance viols - built by Ray Nurse - on which Nota Bene performs. Our sound is further enhanced by a set of matching Renaissance bows by Coen Engelhard, and authentic gut strings by Aquila.

What began as an exploration of how a set of poems, a set of madrigals, and a set of instruments could give us insights into the aesthetic of a place and time led to the discovery of a gorgeous work of art which has never been recorded. 

Fourteen madrigal-pairs (28 pieces!), 10 musicians, 2 readers, 1 engineer, and a space to record them in (not to mention airfare and housing). It's a tall order! But we have already secured a $2000 grant and a major pledge of $5000 towards the total of $22,000 we need to get it done.

Will you be a part of making this recording possible?

Everyone who makes a donation of $25 or more will get a copy of the CD when it is complete. We'll send out an email when the time comes!


Sarah Mead
Natick, MA

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