Vocal ensemble to perform early European music

Vox Resonat
Vox Resonat

Vox Resonat, an ensemble of vocal soloists specializing in music of the Baroque, Renaissance and Middle Ages, will present its first concert of the season at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at Central Lutheran Church, near the UO Campus. The church is at 18th Avenue and Potter Street.

The ensemble will perform music from the early middle ages to the high Renaissance, covering about 600 years. The program, titled "The Lost Saints of Winter,” features pieces composed for festivities associated with December and January holidays, some of which are largely forgotten today.

"In contemporary America, Christmas dominates the darkest part of winter," says Eric Mentzel, founder and director of Vox Resonat. "But Europe of ages past was awash in winter holidays. Some of them are still celebrated in grand style.

“This was a time and place where separation of church and state were unthinkable," Mentzel says. "All holidays were religious, and composers wrote opulent music to accompany the festivities for St. Nicholas, St. James, St. Thomas of Canterbury, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and most important of all, the feast of the Three Kings – also known as the twelfth day of Christmas.”

Mentzel, a prominent and widely recorded singer of early music, is also a voice professor at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. He founded Vox Resonat in Germany in 1998; the American incarnation of the group debuted last fall.

He says that Vox Resonat – a group equally at home in medieval, Renaissance or early Baroque music – is unlike almost any other group in the Northwest.

"The unique composition of the ensemble lets us do music that other people can't, and we're really excited to share it with our audience,” Mentzel says.

In co-production with West German Radio (WDR), Vox Resonat has made a number of recordings, exploring a diverse repertoire that includes medieval Italian laude, English Renaissance carols and French Baroque liturgical chant. Its most recent disc, featuring music of Jean Titelouze, was released on the Marc Aurel Edition label in October.

Tickets for the Jan. 25 concert will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $10, or $5 for students and senior citizens. More information can be found at facebook.com/voxresonat or by visiting the Vox Resonat website.