Women of Renaissance Ferrara

This is a super quick post to flag up last week’s BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week series. Instead of concentrating on one composer, they chose as their focus music and women in Renaissance Ferrara. The series draws heavily on the research of Professor Laurie Stras (University of Southampton) and recordings by Musica Secreta, the women’s voice ensemble that Prof. Stras co-directs with Deborah Roberts.

Do not miss the third programme! It is devoted to the music of nuns, and it reveals a newly-discovered woman composer. Stras identifies Suor Leonora d’Este, a noble-born nun in the Corpus Domini convent in Ferrara, as the likely composer of an intriguing book of anonymous motets, the Musica quinque vocum: motteta materna lingua vacate (1543). ‘Felix namque es sacra’, a motet written for five equal soprano voices, is one of the highlights.

At time of writing, there are between 21 and 26 days left to listen again to these programmes, so get listening! And if that’s not enough (it won’t be), Musica Secreta’s recording of these exquisite motets, Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter, is now available.

Day 1: St Catherine of Bologna

Day 2: Lucrezia Borgia, Tromboncino, and de Rore

Day 3: Leonora d’Este and Raffaella Aleotti

Day 4: Giaches de Wert and the First Concerto

Day 5: Dangerous Graces: Luzzaschi and the Fall of Ferrara