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24th April 2022

Grünewald’s Groẞgeige – the presentation of a new instrument for ReRenaissance

Basel, 1511: Sebastian Virdung published his «Musica getutscht» with descriptions of all kinds of instruments, including the bowed and fretted Groẞgeige.

Basel, 2021: A gift from Hartmut Raguse led to the construction of a Groẞgeige by Jacob Mariani, based on the painting in the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias ​Grünewald. Angels and demons step out of the painting and play music by Agricola, Senfl, and other contemporaries of Grünewald in a programme of music for Kleingeige and Groẞgeige. The string consort developed together with the music around 1500, and was to enjoy increasing popularity in the first decades of the 16th century. The polyphony in sources from this period – the early prints in particular – expressly invites instrumental performance, with the Groẞgeige being specifically emphasized as a suitable ensemble instrument. Marketing certainly played a role in this, with music printers hoping to reach a broader clientele among the players of these instruments. But the pieces work so beautifully with such a homogeneous ensemble, that ReRenaissance will follow contemporary advice and trace Grünewald’s life through the use of an early family of instruments.

Baptiste Romain – Kleingeige; Musical Co-director | Elizabeth Rumsey – Grossgeige; Musical Co-director | Marc Lewon – Lute, Grossgeige | Tabea Schwartz – Recorder, Grossgeige | Jacob Lawrence – Tenor

May 29th

In Mayen - Lasso to sing along


As early as the Renaissance, there were innumerable songs for the merry month of May. Love poems and vivacious texts with a seasonal reference like the famous Im Mayen you can hear the cocks krayen are also set to music in Orlando di Lasso. In this concert, these pieces are performed by a mixed vocal quartet, which accompanies itself on instruments and sometimes inserts artistic vocal decorations into the sung lines. The special sound of the lute duo, which was heard in the September 2020 concert, is experiencing a comeback with a younger repertoire from the later decades of the 16th century. But not only the vocal quartet, but also interested choir singers have the opportunity to join in after a small workshop and get to know Lasso's famous ensemble music from a new perspective using the original notation.


Ivo Haun - vocals, lute; Co-management

Jessica Jans - vocals

Giovanna Baviera - vocals, viol

Rui Stähelin - vocals, lute

ReRenaissance management team: Tabea Schwartz 

June 26th

Psalmy Dawida - Melodies for the Polish Psalter by Mikołaj Gomółka (1580)

In addition to the somewhat earlier polyphonic version of the Geneva Psalter by Claude Goudimel, Gomółka's work is a complete setting of the Psalms of David that is unique in the Renaissance. Gomółka created a national Polish art style with his work. Even if he used well-known dance rhythms and melodic formulas, he attached great importance to the connection between text and music and achieved a new quality through the use of the colorful and consonant-rich Polish language. The strophic songs, which at first glance often appear simple, but sometimes astonishingly artistic, were widespread in Poland at the end of the 16th century and were valued by Catholics and Protestants alike. ReRenaissance interprets these movements with a mixture of homogeneous strings and plucking sounds, as well as a broken consort from both types of instruments. While the harp, lute and lirone provide rich harmonic timbres, the viols emphasize the polyphonic lines of the psalm movements.

Agnieszka Budzinska-Bennett - vocals, organ, direction | Marc Lewon - Lute | Caroline Ritchie - bass viol and lirone | Leonardo Bortolotto - bass viol and treble viol | NN - Triple Harp | Elizabeth Rumsey: co-lead

July 31

Du Fay – A cappella!

"Well rejoice, Basel", one might think, is the title of the beginning of the earliest motet by the Burgundian composer Guillaume Du Fay in translation. But “Basilea” (or “Vasilissa”) is an ambiguous word and in Greek also means “queen”. This work was dedicated to the future Queen Cleofa of the house of the Malatesta of Pesaro, to see her off to Constantinople on her marriage. And like this, most of Du Fay's motets can be linked to a very specific occasion - a place, a time and a story - which makes them all the more interesting. The "motet" was one of the most important forms of vocal music from the High Middle Ages to the High Baroque and changed enormously during this time. Du Fay's motets still show the strict order of medieval composition techniques, which he mastered so masterfully and adapted to the taste of his time that following these rules set no limits to his artistic expression: here the spirit of the early Renaissance blows through the demanding constructs of the Late Gothic, interpreted by the a cappella ensemble from ReRenaissance.

Tessa Roos - voice, leader

Hanna Marti, Loïc Paulin, Simon MacHale, Jed Allen – Voices, | Coordination: Marc Lewon

August 28th

La Fontegara -
Homage to Sylvestro Ganassi

«You have to know that all musical instruments […] have a lower value than this compared to the human voice. That is precisely why we try to learn from it and to imitate it. " This is the opening movement of the most important explicit recorder textbook of the Renaissance. Printed in Venice in 1535, the «Opera Intitulata Fontegara» continues to set standards for our understanding of music and especially the virtuoso play with diminutions. The focus of this first major work by Sylvestro Ganassi is the recorder, but it does not contain finished pieces that could be performed. Rather, it is a stylized snapshot of the diminution practice at that time, which should be relived in this concert in its own transfers and improvisations. According to the clear instructions from the first chapter of Fontegara, the main task of the instruments is to “imitate the human voice with all its abilities” and Ganassi is convinced that the recorder can achieve this feat.

Tabea Schwartz - recorder; Management | Andreas Böhlen - recorder | NN - singing | NN - keyboard instruments | NN - harp


25th of September 

Unitas et Varietas -
Expanded forms and miniatures from 1547

A viol consort in the mid-16th century would have played many types of repertoire, including the often neglected instrumental ricercari. This practice is to be honored in this concert with three collections from 1547. Thanks to the special instrumental fantasies of Jacques Buus, some of the extremes of the instrumental music played at the time become noticeable. Instrumental ricercari can range from a few phrases to something much longer; Jacques Buus' Ricercari are dense and complicated and are among the longest pieces in the fantasy style of the time. At the other extreme are the dances in Attaingnant's collection, which are miniatures of form, tiny pavans and galliards mixed with branles and tourdions. The third pillar of the gamba consort is vocal music - here the focus is on the unknown Dominique Phinot, whose beautiful five-part motets give the viols plenty of scope for word painting and ornamentation.

Filipa Meneses - viol | Leonardo Bortolotto - viol | Alexandra Polin - viol | Ryosuke Sakamoto - viol and lute | Elizabeth Rumsey - viol; management

30th of October

Freshly tweaked -
a Basel lute course

In the basement of the Barfüsserkirche, Basel Historical Museum, some of the most beautiful Renaissance rooms in Basel have been reconstructed and furnished for the public. With their wood paneling, windows made of mouth-blown slug panes and heavy furniture, it was probably those rooms that provided the actual backdrop for making music in private rooms in the 15th and 16th centuries - and for this purpose, playing the lute came first. The repertoire for this was written down in manuscripts or distributed by printing notes - and a notation was specially developed for this: the lute tablature. Whether personal copying or printing, the early lute tablatures contain the repertoire that was played here, because this music was intended for domestic use, and was played and heard in small groups in the rooms and chambers - or all by yourself. For our “Basel Lute Parcours”, four Basel lutenists present four short programs, each inviting a small group of listeners to listen to their chambers and take part in the intimate setting. Solo lute pieces are interpreted from sources from the late 15th to the late 16th century, which are often related to Basel. A tour through the four stations lets you experience the sound spectrum of one of the most popular instruments of the Renaissance for a century: the plectrum-played lute of the 15th century as well as the finger-plucked (or in the jargon of the time: "pinched") lute of the 16th century.

Marc Lewon, Julian Behr, Peter Croton, Ziv Braha - lute | Head: Marc Lewon

November 27th

Transeamus: to Bethlehem! -
Spanish vocal polyphony

Born around 1520, Francisco Guerrero was allowed to call himself “maestro de capilla” at the age of 17. His life begins and ends in Seville, but his vocation as a musician and priest does not only lead him to Italy. The saying of the shepherds in the Christmas story "Let us go to Bethlehem!" he put it into practice in 1589 and traveled to the Promised Land. His setting of that very quotation from the Bible should therefore be heard again along with other motets. In this concert, a cooperation between ReRenaissance and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis enables a unique experience: As in the 16th century, children's voices and professional singers come together in a common capella. Accompanied by typical instruments of the Spanish Renaissance, the beginning of the Advent season is heralded.

Ivo Haun - vocals | NN, NN– singing | NN - Dulcian | Management team: Federico Sepúlveda, Ivo Haun, Tabea Schwartz

December 18th

Noël normand, Rouen 1474 -
Music for angels and shepherds

Rouen, 1474. The story of the Nativity is told here every year, as in every city, town, and hamlet, following the narrative’s inevitable path to the joyful conclusion with the holy family at its centre. But step back and take a wider view, and we see the supporting players; the Shepherds making their way to Bethlehem, and the Angels who watch over them. They have their own music, which we will hear through compositions of the time, taken from the beautifully decorated songbooks of the nobility and adapted to the verses of the Rouen play. The Angels sing to the accompaniment of lute, harp and organ; the Shepherds to the lively fiddle and flute, bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy.

Grace Newcombe – Voice, Harp | Tessa Roos – Voice, Bells | N.N. – Voice | N.N. – Voice | Raitis Grigalis – Voice | Claire Piganiol – Portative organ, Harp | Baptiste Romain – Vielle, Rebec, Bagpipes | Tabea Schwartz – Recorders | Tobie Miller – Hurdy-gurdy, Recorders | Marc Lewon – Lute, Gittern | Leitungsteam: Elizabeth Rumsey, Marc Lewon, David Fallows

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