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“One of the finest early-music ensembles in the country, and perhaps the world.”
~ The New York Times

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Strange and Wonderful Motets of the Renaissance

The strange and wonderful pieces in this program represent one facet of a larger, more widespread artistic phenomenon of the sixteenth century known as Mannerism—the art of the avant-garde. It was a movement that stressed extremes of emotion, exoticism, drama, and surprise. Musically, the Mannerist composers employed chromaticism and unexpectedly large melodic leaps to create exciting, sometimes unstable, effects. The Mannerists featured here are Giaches de Wert, Jacobus Gallus, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi. The texts they chose to set to music ranged from the Old Testament Rachel weeping for her children, to the miracles of Jesus, to John the Baptist's voice crying in the wilderness, to the violent conversion of St. Paul, to the impassioned words of Christ on the cross.
(12 singers + conductor)

Musical Games of the Renaissance

A Century of Musical Ingenuity, 1410-1510

Alongside the popular games of chess, dice, and cards depicted in many medieval and Renaissance paintings, composers contributed their own musical games to the widespread cultural phenomenon. Ranging from the famous "picture" songs by Baude Cordier in the early fifteenth century (one notated in the shape of a heart, the other in the shape of a circle), to Antoine Busnoys's numerically inventive motet comparing his teacher Ockeghem to Pythagoras and Orpheus, to the tour de force of Henricus Isaac's Missa Argentum et aurum (Mass of Silver and Gold), with its striking, modern-sounding experiments in texture and harmony, to the contrpuntal brilliance of Josquin Desprez's Mass in the sixth mode on the L'homme armé tune and his Missa Di dadi (Mass of the Dice), this program presents music both fascinating in its motivation and powerful in its mastery.
(11 singers + conductor)

Pythagoras in the Middle Ages: Music in Tune with the Heavens

One of the principal teachings of Pythagoras—that music on earth can be numerically in tune with the "music of the spheres"—plays a role in all the pieces presented here, from an organum setting by Leonin for the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris at the end of the twelfth century to Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame of ca. 1360 to mind-boggling isorhythmic motets by Guillaume Du Fay and Tapissier in the waning Middle Ages. The program charts an evocative journey from the earliest numerically designed polyphony (thirteenth century) to the sophisticated numerical structures of the Ars nova (fourteenth century) to some of the last and most intricate numerical masterpieces before the innovations of the Renaissance (early fifteenth century).
(9 singers + conductor)

Miracles of Counterpoint: Josquin's Brilliance meets the Drama of the Mannerists

In this program of some of the greatest masterpieces of the high and late Renaissance, the technical brilliance of Josquin Desprez's Missa L'homme armé sexti toni is juxtaposed to the exciting chromatic and dissonant music of Giaches de Wert and Carlo Gesualdo. One Renaissance commentator compared Josquin to Michelangelo. By that standard, Giaches de Wert and Gesualdo are the musical counterparts of the avant-garde painters Parmigianino, El Greco, and Caravaggio. Josquin's music impressed his contemporaries by its seeming miracles of counterpoint. Martin Luther famously said of him that he could make music do what he wanted, whereas other composers had to do what the notes required. Two and three generations later, Giaches de Wert and Gesualdo wrote music with a different aim: to create maximum emotional impact for its listeners by means of chromaticism, outré melodic leaps, and arresting harmonies.
(11 singers + conductor)

Gregorian Chant and Amazing Motets from German Speaking Lands

Twelfth to Seventeenth Centuries

It may come as a surprise to people who know how many teachings of the Catholic Church Martin Luther rejected to learn that he loved Catholic Church music, both Gregorian chant and the elevated polyphony of Renaissance composers. Those two styles of Catholic music remained mainstays of the Lutheran Church, alongside the newer congregational chorales, throughout the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth. The program juxtaposes a selection of the greatest Gregorian chants of the church year—as transmitted in German service books by Luca Lossius (1561), Franz Eler (1588), and medieval manuscripts—with wondrously chromatic polyphonic works by Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591), Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), and Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).
(10 singers + conductor)

170415PomeriumCloisters smPassion and Resurrection

Pomerium performs its exploration of the great Renaissance choral music of Passiontide and Easter. The program proceeds from Palm Sunday to Easter Day with an emphasis on music for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Stylistically, the program progresses from the austerity of Gregorian chant and its polyphonic elaborations by Du Fay and Senfl, to the intense Lamentations by Robert White and affective evocations of the events of Holy Week by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, to the celebration of the Resurrection in glorious motets by Orlande de Lassus and William Byrd.


Creator of the Stars: Christmas Music from the Old World

Among the themes celebrated in the sacred art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, none approaches in significance the threefold mysteries of the Christian faith: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. This concert presents a selection of Gregorian chant and monophonic devotional songs (cantiones) for the Christmas season alongside corresponding polyphonic elaborations by Renaissance masters Guillame Du Fay, William Byrd, Josquin Desprez, Cipriano de Rore, Adrian Willaert, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and more.




“One of the finest early-music ensembles in the country, and perhaps the world.”
~ The New York Times

“The standard by which early music vocal groups are measured."
~ The New York Times

“Ravishingly beautiful singing — light but strong, blended, clear, and totally winning.”
~ The Boston Globe

“Such stylistic assurance, purity of intonation, and sheer beauty of sound are unrivaled by any other American group singing this repertoire.”
~ Keynote Magazine

“Pomerium is an outstanding small vocal consort. Their concert of English music from the Old Hall Manuscript and earlier was, I think, one of the most memorable I’ve heard in any field in New York. Their style has no elements of self-advertisement or triviality.”
~ BBC Third Programme

“Pomerium is a virtuoso Renaissance ensemble: smooth, fluid, supple, exquisite but not arty in timbre, surefooted in rhythm, treading one rhythmic maze after another with the serene swiftness or slowness of Balanchine dancers.”
~ The New Yorker

“The sound is rich and almost organlike, with finely-honed tuning. If only an organ could produce such carefully modulated thirds at every turn!”
~ Boston Early Music News

“The performance by Pomerium was light and resilient, utterly transparent and translucent. The music sounded like the stars shining in a clear sky: mystical and from afar, but inescapable.”
~ NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands)

“The works were bravely and movingly turned into living music by Mr. Blachly and Pomerium, a virtuoso group of gifted individuals who together make a wonderful sound. This was a concert of rare merit: great music performed with care, devotion, and uncommon accomplishment.”
~ The New Yorker

“The singing is outstandingly clear and tasteful. The striking spontaneity of this most subtle composer’s (Ockeghem’s) personality has never been so well caught in recorded performance.”
~ International Music Guide


Inspired by the renowned chapel choirs of the Renaissance, Pomerium revives the golden age of a cappella singing. The ensemble, featuring some of the finest singers in the country and acclaimed for its luminous sound, performs frequently in New York—at such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Frick Collection, and Music Before 1800—as well as across the USA and abroad.

Pomerium was founded by Alexander Blachly in New York in 1972 to perform music composed for the famous chapel choirs of the Renaissance. (The name—medieval Latin for “garden” or “orchard”—derives from the title of a treatise by the 14th-century music theorist Marchettus of Padua, who explained that his Pomerium in arte musice mensurate contains the “flowers and fruits” of the art of music.) Widely known for its interpretations of Du Fay, Ockeghem, Busnoys, Josquin, Lassus, and Palestrina, the 15-voice a cappella ensemble has performed for numerous international festivals, including the Festival di Musica Sacra Bressanone e Bolzano (Brixner Initiative), the Tage Alter Musik festival in Regensburg, Germany, the Flanders Festival Antwerp, and the Holland Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht.

In Fall 1998 Pomerium performed in Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, Japan. The ensemble has released four CDs for Deutsche Grammophon/Archiv Produktion: “A Musical Book of Hours” (Archiv Produktion 457 586-2; re-issued as “Musical Book of Hours”), “Creator of the Stars: Christmas Music from Earlier Times” (Archiv Produktion 449 819-2; re-issued as “An Old-World Christmas”), “The Virgin & the Temple: Motets and Plainchant by Guillaume Du Fay” (Archiv Produktion 447 773-2), and Du Fay’s Mass for St. Anthony of Padua (Archiv Produktion 447 772-2); and, on the Dorian and Classic Masters labels, music by Arcadelt, Busnoys, Du Fay, Gesualdo, Marenzio, Monteverdi, Ockeghem, Wert, and Willaert. “Musica Vaticana,” featuring music composed for the Sistine Chapel choir at the time Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and “Carolus Maximus: Music in the Life of Charles V” were released on the Glissando/Pure Classics label in 1998 and 2000. They are distributed in the USA by Qualiton. In June 2003 Pomerium released “Josquin Desprez: Missa Hercules dux Ferrarie, Motets & Chansons,” also on Glissando/Pure Classics. In 2008, Pomerium released a recording featuring motets and a Magnificat setting by Orlande de Lassus. In June 2011 the ensemble recorded a CD of Mannerist motets by Giaches de Wert, Carlo Gesualdo, Orlande de Lassus, and Claudio Monteverdi. In 2012, Pomerium released “A Voice in the Wilderness—Mannerist Motets of the Renaissance,” and in 2015, the group released their most recent CD, “Music for the Tudor Queens.”

For more information, visit www.pomerium.us


For booking inquiries, please contact Rachel Givner, Director of Administrative Services, rgivner@gemsny.org, (212) 866–0468

GEMS Live! is a unique not-for-profit booking agency representing a roster of New York's world-class early music ensembles: The Bishop's Band, East of the River, House of Time, Parthenia, and Pomerium.