Crescendo takes on Carissimi in concert

On Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24, Crescendo will present works by Giacomo Carissimi, a notable 17th century Italian composer.

The program will take place at St. James Place in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on March 23 and Trinity Church in Lime Rock, Connecticut, on March 24.

Works by Carissimi are not performed often, despite his status as one of the more prominent composers of his time in the genres of oratorio and cantata. His music laid the groundwork for famous composers such as Bach and Handel, and the selections for this concert showcase quick and dynamic tempo changes as well as beautiful phrases with intense emotion. Although Carissimi did not write opera like many composers of his time, this led to his works having more prominent and pointed use of chorus.

The concert will feature 30 singers, making it one of the larger choruses of Crescendo’s season, as well as seven period instruments.

The Mass, “Missa L’homme Armé,” stands as the main portion of the concert and its second half. It is based on a medieval piece “The Armed Man,” and there are over 30 written masses from this time period that are based on this tune.

This war resounding song is reflected in Carissimi’s Mass with its battle fanfares and aggressive instrumentation. Yet as often as the music insists upon its visions of war, there are an equal number of heartfelt, somber and uniquely beautiful sections, some of which are sung only by solo voices.

After some investigation and communication with choirs around the country, Crescendo founder and director Christine Gevert says this is likely a United States premiere of this music. “Today I heard back from the director of the Carissimi ensemble in the U.S., who has performed many of his works, and, of course, keeps a close eye on everything related to Carissimi,” said Gevert. “He also does not know of a U.S. performance. So I think it is safe to say that it is.”

To learn more or purchase tickets, go to

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