Now let me try to understand this one more time... Universal Music’s chief executive Max Hole tells us that classical musicians “need to think about the way they dress, and to appear more excited and engaged” and “the very buildings in which they play are often seen as forbidding and not places many people think they’d be comfortable entering”. So to reach a new audience Decca TV promotes a CD of traditionalist nuns decked out in habits singing Gregorian chant in one of the most forbidding and difficult to enter places on earth, the monastic enclosure of a cloistered religious order - see image above from Decca promotional video. And the label then follows the best selling Voices: Chant from Avignon with the album below sung by a Franciscan friar in full fig. Is it me or is it them?
If you want your music dressed-down, exciting and engaging but still with a monastic connection, you must look beyond Decca and the other corporate labels. French independent Editions Hortus has recorded Edith Canat de Chizy’s Livre d’Heures, a contemporary setting of texts from the four principal Divine Offices in the monastic day – matins, lauds, vespers and compline – for women’s voices and instrumental ensemble. Edith Canat de Chizy (b.1950) is seen below at the recording session in the church of Saint-Pothin de Lyon, France. She studied with Ivo Malec and Maurice Ohana; the latter after hearing Livre d’Heures urged her to “make the music you feel, from your innermost self, and no other”. Livre d’Heures is sung by the Chœur Britten with instrumental ensemble Les Temps Modernes, and the couplings are Canat de Chizy’s Messe brève de l’Ascension, her post-Messiaen Véga for solo organ, and an extended improvisation on the three works by organist Loïc Mallié. This is uncompromising and engaging contemporary music which should be heard far more often. As I have said before, we should stop apologising for the way we present our sometimes challenging but always inspiring music, and instead be much more confident and bold in the way we programme and champion it. More on Edith Canat de Chizy's music here.
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