What do you imagine when you think about taking a summer course? Would singing choral music from the Renaissance be your first idea? It might be if you’re a student of the Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School!

School’s In For Summer

The Canadian Renaissance Music Summer School (CRMSS) is in its second year of operation. CRMSS is the only Renaissance choral music workshop of its kind in Canada.

Greg Skidmore, a Canadian-born, English-based acclaimed baritone singer, is the director of CRMSS. Accompanied by a team of specialist tutors from around the world, Greg immerses students in a weeklong study of Renaissance choral music.
The students primarily include university music students and young professional singers. They engage in intense 12-hour days. A typical day includes several hours of rehearsal (with allotted tea breaks), lectures, and symposiums. Previous lectures have focused on subjects such as the history of the lute and the theory of vocal ensemble intonation.

Madrigals and Chants and Polyphony, Oh My!

The week packed with practice culminates in a series of performances. This year’s final concert is “Musica Transalpina.” The concert explores connections between English sacred polyphony and Italian madrigals of the 16th century.
If these terms are as new to you as they are to me, here are some basic explanations with the help of outside research!
Polyphony = Many voices! Sacred polyphony involves pieces written for performance in mass. Church music evolved through the Middle Ages to introduce harmonies. Concurrently, the concept of musical harmony developed in French musical schools. As the harmonic scale developed, several Renaissance composers wrote polyphonic music for mass.
Madrigals are also polyphonic, but they are secular. In fact, the Italian madrigals often referenced literary works, such as the sonnets of celebrated poet Petarch. Madrigals could span a variety of themes from serious to silly. Sometimes many madrigals with similar themes were put together to create madrigal comedies.

Becoming A Renaissance Person

For a unique musical experience exploring history, check out “Musica Transalpina.”
The CRMSS receiving warm applause. Photo by Matt Long.
The concert is at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica this Saturday, May 25 at 8:00pm. Admission is free. There will be a donation collection between the CRMSS and St. Peter’s Cathedral Bascilica.
The final concert is not your only opportunity to see the CRMSS students in action! The group will be performing different church services around town from Thursday through Sunday. Sunday’s performance will include authentic Gregorian chants! Details for the other performances is on the school’s performances page.
Also, if you’re a university music student or singer with sweet sight reading skills, keep an eye on the CRMSS website for 2020! Western music students can recieve accreditation for taking part. All students can look forward to a week exploring and performing a rich musical history.


Feature photo by Matt Long


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

five × five =