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Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent present their third project for Phi focussing on vocal music of the Renaissance. This time, it is the English composer William Byrd (c.1540-1623) who is being honoured. The title of the programme is that of Byrd’s motet Infelix ego, one of the greatest artistic statements of the 16th century. Its text is a meditation on Psalm 50, written by the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola, a remarkable man who waged a campaign against the corrupt Medici family in Florence. Taking the form of several rhetorical questions and assertions, the text describes all the emotions felt by a tormented soul: guilt, fear, embarrassment, anger but above all the gift of deliverance upon acceptance of Christ’s mercy. Byrd seems to have felt a powerful emotional connection with the words.
The Collegium Vocale Gent also presents the Mass for 5 Voices and a selection of motets by Byrd, along with Alfonso Ferrabosco’s Peccantem me quotidie a5 and Philippus de Monte’s Miserere mei a5.