Sunday, February 26, 2012

Women’s History Month Event: Hilary Tann Premiere Featured at Concert Celebrating 400th Anniversary of Anne Bradstreet’s Birth


Women’s History Month Event:
Hilary Tann Premiere Featured at Concert Celebrating
400th Anniversary of Anne Bradstreet’s Birth 

By Beth Purcell

Cappella Clausura presents Mistress: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Birth of America’s First Poet, Mistress Anne BradstreetThe commissioned Contemplations (8, 9) by composer Hilary Tann will receive its premiere, joined on this Women’s History Month program by her Contemplations (21, 22), written earlier for the Radcliffe Choral Society.  Dorothy Crawford’s A Portrait of Anne Bradstreet, based on the poet’s letters and poems, and Naushon will also be featured.  Madrigals and motets by Barbara Strozzi and Isabella Leonarda, Bradstreet’s contemporaries, will complete the concert. 

Tenors and basses will be added to the female chorus for the Strozzi and Leonarda works, along with harpsichord, violin and recorder for some of the pieces. A festive reception with birthday cake will be held at the concert on March 17, when Hilary Tann will be in attendance for the premiere. 

Known as America's first poet, Anne Bradstreet was born in England, then moved to the greater Boston area with other Puritan emigrants in 1630.  A freethinker and intellect, she wrote poetry on religious and domestic subjects with at least one collection published in her time in both England and the New World.  Both her father and her husband served as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; both were also prominently involved in the founding of Harvard College (where a gate now bears an excerpt from one of Bradstreet’s works). 

In Contemplations, the poet stands in awe of God’s universe.  This long work was written for her family and published posthumously.  Tann’s musical setting of the 8th and 9th sections of the poem is adventurous and rhythmically vibrant, with hints of a Japanese aesthetic.  Clausura has sung other works of Tann’s in the past.

Tann’s music is influenced by the love of her native Wales, the natural world and traditional music of Japan. 
Ensembles that have commissioned and performed her works include the American Guild of Organists, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, European Women’s Orchestra, Tenebrae, Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Thai Philharmonic and KBS Philharmonic in Seoul.  She lives in the Adirondacks and serves on the faculty of Union College.  For more information, visit:

Crawford’s works have been performed by many ensembles including the Longy Chamber Singers, the Unicorn Singers, which she founded with her husband, composer/pianist John Crawford, and at the Bloch Festival where she was a participating composer.  She is the recipient of a Composers’ Guild Award for Choral Composition and lives in Cambridge.

Concert Dates/Locations:
Saturday, March 17, 8PM,  Parish of the Messiah, 1900 Commonwealth Av., Newton
Saturday, March 24, at 8PM,  University Lutheran, 66 Winthrop St., Cambridge
Sunday, March 25, 4PM,  First Church in Jamaica Plain, 6 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain

Contact:          Director Amelia LeClair  617-964-6609  or
Tickets:           $15 - $25.  Purchase online  at  or at the door

Cappella Clausura brings to light works written by women from the 8th century to the present day:  twelve  centuries of “new” music.   While this ensemble of sopranos, altos, and period instruments performs music solely by  women composers, and champions living composers, it concentrates on repertoire by women in the
cloister – clausura – during the Italian baroque period.  During this extraordinary time, women were allowed to
express themselves spiritually and artistically, and to publish their own music.  Clausura’s intention is to dispel the notion that there are not now nor have there ever been gifted women composers.  History has been blind and deaf to these remarkable works; Cappella Clausura  brings vision and voice to them.

About Amelia LeClair and the context of Cappella Clausura:
LeClair received her Bachelor's in Music Theory and Composition from UMass Boston in 1975.  Having noticed throughout her education the dearth of female composers in the historical canon, she lost faith in her own ability to compose and moved on to raising a family and owning a business.  
Musical scholars in the 70's unearthed the works of female composers which had for too long moldered in libraries:  scholars such as Robert Kendrick, Craig Monson, Candace Smith, Judith Tick, Jane Bernstein, and many more.  Then the Norton Grove Dictionary of Women Composers appeared on university shelves.  The work of these scholars became the impetus for Cappella Clausura.  In 2001 LeClair entered the masters program at New England Conservatory, studying with Simon Carrington in choral conducting. She made her conducting debut in Jordan Hall in March of 2002.
Shortly after gaining her masters, she founded Cappella Clausura, an ensemble of voices and period instruments specializing in music written by women from the 8th century to the present day.   She has presented and premiered the music of Hilary Tann, Patricia Van Ness, Abbie Betinis, Emma Lou Diemer, and many more. Now in its seventh year, Cappella Clausura has to date received annual local cultural council grants from the city of Newton, three grants from Choral Arts New England, and a grant from the PatsyLu fund of Open Meadows Foundation.
LeClair greatly enjoys the discovery and presentation of music not in the standard repertoire, such as women's early music and works that expand on Euro-centric strictures.  She is director of choirs at the Church of St Andrew in Marblehead and Director of Schola Nocturna, a compline choir at the Episcopal Parish of the Messiah in Newton.  She directed Coro Stella Maris, a renaissance a cappella choir in Gloucester, for five years. She has directed children's choirs for First Unitarian Society in Newton, and Revels. She lives in Newton with her husband.

What the press is saying

"...eavesdrop on paradise... personal and inviting, extravagant and intimate."
- Matthew Guerreri, BOSTON GLOBE
"...riveting...pure, rich.." - The Boston Phoenix
"...the cadences of each phrase and each piece were nothing short of exquisite. There were many divine moments of perfect sonority..."   - Boston Musical Intelligencer     


*Photos and full artist bios are available at  

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