ENSEMBLE CAPPELLA MAGDALENA
As the five women who performed as the Ensemble Cappella Magdalena in Quarante this past Monday night began singing in the back of the main chapel of the Abbaye de Quarante, processed down the center aisle, and completed their opening plain-song at the altar, I couldn't help but wonder how fully their voices filled the 1,000-year-old Abbaye, clear as bells, without amplification. Modern concert halls have spent fortunes and failed to duplicate the sound quality of those ancient churches that seem to have been built to showcase the human voice. And as I've been known to say repeatedly, the female voice in song is the most beautiful of musical instruments.
Please visit the website linked above and learn their story. Buy their music if it's to your liking. This is one fine troupe, five strong individual voices blended in sweet unity. In addition to plain-songs, they performed motets and other sacred forms with assurance and skill. And although they didn't interact with each other to any great extent, only the occasional nod or smile, they did seem to be enjoying the vocal interplay. We certainly did. This was heady, rare stuff performed with skill and respect for the music.
The only disappointment was the lack of a full house. Yes, the midsummer weather had been brutal. But the thick old stones of the Abbaye made for a relatively cool chapel. One-third full was not sufficient, almost an insult. The Ensemble Cappella Magdalena deserved a full house. If they come your way, don't miss them.