Thais St. Julien

Co-Host, Continuum

Thaïs St. Julien has performed everything from Gregorian chant to Gershwin, appearing in recitals, concerts and opera across the U.S.  The New Orleans native is co-director (with founder Milton Scheuermann)of New Orleans Musica da Camera, performing music of the 11th through 19th centuries.  She created and directs the group’s  women’s vocal ensemble, Vox Feminae, sometimes writing and arranging music for them. She and Scheuermann co-host the ensemble’s weekly program of early music, Continuum, aired on  WWNO 89.9FM, streamed on wwno.org. Twelve Musica da Camera productions featuring the soprano as soloist have been broadcast on National Public Radio, American Public Radio and Public Radio International.

Her passion for 18th and 19th century New Orleans music has led to lectures and performances across the country. She was featured on the internationally acclaimed series “Creole Cameos” produced by WWNO, and “Arc Light”, a video series produced by Amistad Research Center. The soprano has recorded for the Newport Classics, Centaur, Belle Alliance and Clark Constructions record labels. Her closest brush with the movies was as historic music advisor for “Interview with the Vampire”.

Recipient of the 2007 Louisiana Artist Fellowship in Music, St. Julien is also a SouthernArtistry.org artist, and has received a Gambit “Tribute to the Classical Arts” Life Time Achievement Award and the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s Pioneer in Preservation Honor Award. She’s also profiled in several Marquis “Who’s Who” publications.

When not reading a mystery novel or doing historical research, she’s a magician, (it’s a performance art, after all, not that much different from music). She also belongs to some nifty organizations - the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, the Knights of Slights and Mensa.

Ways to Connect

Neo-Medieval is a term used by modern-day musicians who perform medieval music in a purely contemporary style. One thing this could mean is the possibility of using contemporary instruments and not the ones in use at the time of composition. Also, vocal selections could be extended to elongated elaborated interpretations of the original music. This Continuum presents three modern day American ensembles performing early music in the Neo-Medieval style.

French composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) was one of the most important composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He was a dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord. This Continuum presents music composed for his funeral by another recognized French composer of the same period, Jean Gilles (1668-1705). Recording used: Rameau’s Funeral (Capriccio Stravagante et al directed by New Orleans born Skip Sempe) - Paradizo PA0013.

During the Renaissance period dancing was one of the most favored past times. On this Continuum you’ll hear music composed by three masters of that time. A Renaissance dance can be likened to a ball. Knowledge of court dances has survived better than that of country dances as they were collected by dancing masters in manuscripts and later in printed books. Recordings used are: Danses Populaires Francaises (The Broadside Band) - Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951152, and William Byrd - Virginals & Consorts (Capriccio Stravagante) - Auvidis E 8611.

The title of this Continuum, “Diminuito”, refers to a Renaissance style of early music performed by embellishing a melody through improvisation, much as a jazz group might do today. Renaissance musicians improvised tunes familiar to audiences of the time. It is performed by Rolf Lislevand, a Norwegian performer of early music specializing on lute, vihuela, baroque guitar and theorbo. He plays solo as well as with his own early music ensemble. The CD is Diminuito (Rolf Lislevand Ensemble) ECM New Series 2088.

The nightingale was a complex symbol for medieval writers. Her song was a reminder of both the joys and sorrows of earthly love. She is referred to very often in medieval songs, motets and polyphony. On this Continuum you'll hear some of this music in a recording of a live Musica da Camera concert. The program is from the Musica da Camera's CD, Praise To The Nightingale, Belle Alliance BA005.

This Continuum presents a program of the music of Bach. Two of the six Suites for Solo Cello will be performed by the outstanding cellist, Tess Remy-Schumacker. And excerpts from the motet repertoire of the composer will round out the program. The music is from the two CDs: Suites for Cello Solo: Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (Tess Remy-Schumacheer) Xolo1011, and Johann Sebastian Bach Motetten (The Hilliard Ensemble) ECM 1875.

Continuum presents excerpts from the Feast of Fools, a post-European Christmas event dating from the Middle Ages. Occurring between Christmas and Epiphany, this celebration was marked by much license and buffoonery. The clergy and the laity traded places for a day and interesting things happened, particularly in The Mass of the Ass. You'll hear it from these CDs: The Feast of Fools (The New London Consort) L’Oiseaus-Lyre 433 194-2, and La Fete de L'Ane (Clemencic Consort) Harmonia Mundi HMT 7901036.

This Continuum presents a recording of another live concert by New Orleans Musica da Camera. Jongleur, Jester, Trickster, was a special concert given by Musica da Camera in 2012. It is music from the 13th and 14th centuries of France, Italy, England & Spain. Thais St. Julien also gives narrative information before the performance of each musical selection. The music is from the Musica da Camera CD, Jongleur, Jester, Trickster, Belle Alliance BA006.

Two of the most famous Renaissance composers of dance music were Michael Praetorius (1571-1521) and Tielman Susato (c.1510-1570). This Continuum presents a wide selection of this highly spirited music. Performing are the famous New York Pro Musica and the New London Consort. The music by the New York Pro Musica is from a 1950s sound track of an early video of this most famous early music ensemble. CDs used are: Praetorius/Susato (New York Pro Musica) L’Oiseau-Lyre 436 132-2, and Tielman Susato: Dansereye (New London Consort) Universal UMD 80565.

Excerpts from the medieval musical, "The Play of Robin and Marion", will be featured on this Continuum. Composed by the 13th century trouvère Adam de la Halle, this pastoral work is considered by some to be one of the first operas written. The recording is an historic live performance given in 1984 by musicians of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the famous early music school in Basel, Switzerland. CD is "Le Jeu de Robin et Marion", Focus 913.

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