The STORY BEHIND CLAUSURA
"...not a poor choice on the program.."
"...eavesdrop on paradise... personal and inviting, extravagant and intimate."
Cappella Clausura’s name honors the extraordinary body of music written by cloistered nuns of 17th century Italy who were “in clausura", or cloistered: covered, hidden away, segregated from public life. These gifted and musically educated individuals—such as Raffaella Aleotti, Chiara Cozzolani, Bianca Maria Meda, Caterina Assandra and Sulpitia Cesis—became our first historical community of recognized women composers. Cappella Clausura has performed and recorded their music with dedication, and will continue to do so. And we have kept the name “Clausura” as a metaphor for the cultural obstacles faced by women composers throughout history.
The core of the vocal ensemble is a group of twelve - sixteen singers who perform a cappella, with continuo, or with chamber orchestra, as the repertoire requires. All are accomplished professionals who perform widely as soloists and ensemble musicians in Greater Boston and beyond; likewise, our instrumentalists are drawn from Boston’s superb pool of freelancers. We utilize medieval, renaissance, classical and baroque period instruments when appropriate to the repertoire.
In addition to releasing our own recordings, Cappella Clausura is a Parma artist, with two recordings now available on the Navona label:
Hilary Tann's brilliant choral music, Exultet Terra, released in 2016 to rave reviews was one of the most downloaded/streamed albums four months after its release.
Patricia Van Ness's luminous Birds of the Psalms released November 2017.
photo: Hendrik Broekman
Over the last fifteen years, Cappella Clausura has performed an ever-widening repertoire for enthusiastic audiences in concert halls, churches and academic settings. This repertoire includes music by medieval composers Hildegard von Bingen, Kassia, and the anonymous Trobairitz/Trouvères (troubadours); Renaissance composers Vittoria Aleotti and Sulpitia Cesis; Baroque composers named above as well as Isabella Leonarda, Barbara Strozzi and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre; Classical composers Marianna von Martines (whom LeClair has dubbed “the female Mozart”); Romantic Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel; the 20th century’s Rebecca Clarke, Erna Woll, and 21st century composers Patricia Van Ness, Abbie Betinis, Sinta Wuller, Emma Lou Diemer, Hilary Tann, Elena Ruehr, Libby Meyer. We have been privileged to have compositions written especially for us by a growing number of living composers.Program highlights through the years have included our acclaimed production of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum, which we consider the first opera by a woman composer; Passionately UnConventional: works by women of the Italian Baroque; the complete Vespers of Chiara Cozzolani, Italian style; and Illuminations, a performance-installation piece featuring a day in the life of a 16th century Belgian convent, its music, food, costumes, scribes, and its recently discovered illuminated Salzinnes Antiphonal. In March of 2014 we released our premier studio recording of the complete Ghirlanda di Madrigali, eighteen madrigals by the Renaissance teenaged prodigy Vittoria Aleotti.
subsequent seasons have spotlighted a pairing of the Cozzolani Vespers and Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, the New England premiere of Exultet Terra by Hilary Tann, Cassandra in the Temples, a staged a cappella opera by MIT's acclaimed Elena Ruehr, libretto by Gretchen Henderson; and Birds of the Psalms, written especially for Cappella Clausura by the transcendent Patricia Van Ness.