Monday, 7 December 2020

The first published Black composer: the Marian Consort performs Vicente Lusitano's Inviolata as part of its Advent programme at Kings Place

The Marian Consort
The Marian Consort

We know very little about Vicente Lusitano. He was born in Olivença in Portugal and in 1561 published an important musical treatise. And that is about it. He is seems to be of African descent (he is described in contemporary sources as a "pardo", the Portuguese for mulatto), and whilst in Rome he published not only his treatises but a book of motets, making him almost certainly the first published Black composer. Much of what we know about him comes from an 18th century biography which is full of now unverifiable information, and of course there seems to be no surviving image of him.

His music (motets and a madrigal) is woefully ignored as compared to his contemporaries. There will be a chance to remedy that when the Marian Consort performs their programme All Creation Waits at Kings Place on 15 December 2020. Their Advent sequence will include Lusitano's Inviolata, written in homage to his predecessor Josquin.

Also in the programme will be music by Palestrina, Josquin, and Jehan L’Heritier (a 16th century composer who was probably a pupil of Josquin), alongside works by Poulenc, MacMillan and Benjamin Britten (his amazing Hymn to the Virgin, written when he was just 17).

Full details from the Kings Place website.

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