Directed by Graham Coatman

St. Luke’s Church Bath, 7th July 2018
Splendours of la Serenissima – Lo Sposalizio del Mare

Singing and Playing day for singers and players of recorders and other instruments, hosted by the Bath Society of Recorder Players.

Since the 11th century Venetian sailors gathered together once a year on Ascension Day to offer prayers to San Nicolo, their patron saint, for his protection. At the height of its pre-eminence as an international trading port, and the meeting point of east and west, Venice celebrated this event in the early 17th century with a rich and sumptuous ceremony, known as ‘Lo sposalizio del mare’, or the wedding of Venice and the Sea. There would be a great procession, led by the Doge and accompanied by the most important people of the city, to the mouth of the lagoon where it meets the seas, where he would drop a ceremonial gold wedding ring into the water. A celebratory mass and musical banquet followed.

Bath has water, hot and cold, and boats, a river and a canal; a local authority (an ex-mayor came to join us) and great architecture; and, as with Venice, people come here for the benefits of the waters. So we gathered musicians from all over the south west to explore our Italian rival’s music. The heavens obliged us with suitably mediterranean weather.

We explored music written by the Gabrielis and their contemporaries for this specific occasion, and similar events, in 8, 10, 12 and 16 parts, in the 5 polychoral style that is a hallmark of Venetian music at this time. Other composers represented include Gussago, Viadana and Monteverdi. The day called for a large array of instruments and voices and provided a sonorous and richly rewarding experience for all taking part.

As conductor we invited Graham Coatman, who is new to this area. He enjoys an active and varied career as composer, musical director and pianist, with a special involvement in creative arts and education projects. Currently Associate Lecturer at Bath Spa University, he is Director of HISS (Historically Informed Summer School) which he founded in 2010, and now attracts participants from four continents. He is presently involved in ADDUP, an Erasmus+ project to train student conductors in Italy, France, Poland and the UK.

– Angela le Grice