Alta Capella is the first Russian early music ensemble playing brass wind instruments of Renaissance and Baroque period (esp. cornets and sackbuts). The ensemble members are graduates and students of the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The goal of the ensemble is to help Russian public in discovering music that has been practically never performed in our country, namely, the European sacred and secular music of the 14th – 17th centuries, both vocal and instrumental. We play exclusively on authentic copies of period instruments, seeking to absorb the spirit of this music by means of its historically accurate reconstruction, by giving up the music experience of the last three centuries.
The name of the ensemble goes back to the 14th – 15th centuries when “alta capella” meant any combination of the so-called “grossi” instruments, that is, loud winds. Later on, the predominant meaning of the word “alta” became “high” rather than “loud”, in the sense of playing from a high or eminent place, but also of playing for notables, highly positioned persons; also, playing a “high”, that is sacred, music.
For us, all those meanings are relevant, and altogether they reflect quite well the stylistic diversity and the time span of our repertoire, which includes:
· medieval sacred and secular music that may be performed by an ensemble including winds (troubadour and trouvère songs, open air dances);
· Landini and Guillaume de Machaut;
· composers of the Franco-Flemish School (aka Burgundian and Dutch): Dufay, Binchois, Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez and others till Orlando Lasso;
· Renaissance consort music (first of all Italian, but also English);
· three centuries of Lutheran music (from Johann Walter and Pretorius till J.S. Bach),
· and also any other Early Baroque ensemble music of various composers throughout Europe, such as Biber in Austria, Adam Michna in Czechia, Lulli and Charpentier in France, Purcell in England, and many others.
The ensemble gives more and more time to the music of the Middle Ages. Included to the repertoire are pieces from the Cantigas de Santa Maria, the Libre vermell de Montserrat, the Selden book codeces.
The Alta Capella musicians have created over 10 concert programmes including Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. Among them are: The Bible in the 17th century music (Heinrich Schütz and his contemporaries); In Castle and in Square (Performance of the Troubadours and Knights Epoch); Early music of today (pieces of modern composers made specially for the Alta Capella ensemble); Venice 100 years before Vivaldi; Music and dances of the Italian atrium (in collaboration with the Time of Dance historical dance ensemble).
Since its foundation (2009) the Alta Capella ensemble takes an active part in cultural life of Moscow with solo performances (the P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the Kolomenskoe Museum, the A.S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Study of Art Institute concert-halls) – e.g. concert of world premieres based on the pieces written specially for the Alta Capella ensemble (the Moscow “School of Dramatic Art” Theatre, 2010), performances which became authentic preamble for the premiere of opera “Franziskus” by S. Nevsky at the Bolshoi Theatre (New stage, 2012), part of the “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde” exhibition – Museum Night programme (the A.S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, 2013). The ensemble was participant of musical festivals: the Moscow Bach Festival “From Christmas to Christmas” (2009), “Background and Top” (2010), “Alexandriyskaya carousel” (Petergof, 2011), 19th Yehiam Renaissance Festival (Israel, 2011), 4th Festival d’Orgue de Brunoy (France, 2011), 2nd International festival “Organ plus in Tsaritsuno” (Moscow, 2013), 16th International festival EARLYMUSIC (St. Petersburg–Gatchina, 2013). The ensemble collaborates with such outstanding musicians as Alexei Lubimov, Anatoly Grindenko, Dmitry Sinkovsky, Dmitry Stepanovich, Andrey Nemzer; performs also with Russian early music ensembles (Pfeyffer, Universalia in Re, Labyrinthus, Laterna Magica).
The ensemble took part in summer early music courses (prof. Bruce Dickey; Urbino, Italy, 2010), in international master-classes of prof. Martin Lubenow (Germersheim, Germany, 2010), prof. William Dongois and prof. Stefan Legée (Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, 2010), prof. Wim Becu (Akademie für Alte Musik Bremen – Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum; Salzburg, Austria, 2011), 2nd Open Academy of Baroque Music under direction of Andrew Lawrence-King and Marco Beasley (St. Petersburg, 2012). The Alta Capella Soloists won the International Young Artist’s Presentation competition (honoured with the title “IYAP Selected Promising Ensemble 2012”) and took part in the “Laus Polyphoniae” festival with the In Stile Moderno programme (Antwerpen, Belgium, 2012).
The ensemble members are organizers of the International music and dance festival La Renaissance in Moscow (1st festival – April 2011, 2nd – January-February 2012, 3d – May-June 2013). The festival programmes included lectures and master-classes at the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, joint concerts with the Alta Capella, the Time of Dance historical dance ensemble (artistic director Natalia Kaidanovskaya), soloists of the Questa musica vocal ensemble (artistic director Maria Grilikhes). Among participants were Jean Tubéry and La Fenice, William Dongois, Stefan Legée, Véronique Daniels, Angélique Mauillon (France), Wim Becu (Belgium), Guillermo Pérez (Spain), Isacco Colombo and Viva Biancaluna Biffi (Italy), Andrew Lawrence-King, Barbara Segal (Great Britain).