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

Continuum presents harpsichord music by the Baroque French composer and harpsichordist, Francois Couperin (1668-1733). His most intriguing harpsichord work without a doubt is "The Mysterious Barricades". Music historians and scholars have never been able to give a reason for the name of the composition. Perhaps Couperin had a future vision of the many streets in uptown New Orleans that were closed by barricades and repaired as a result of hurricane Katrina in 2005. New Orleans born harpsichordist Skip Sempe performs these interesting compositions.

One of the most famous gifted musicians in the field of early music is the Catalan viol player, Jordi Savall. He is truly a master of the instrument. On this Continuum you’ll hear his extraordinary playing of historical Celtic music. Joining him is the outstanding medieval harpist, Andrew Lawrence-King . Both the viol and harp are rarely heard together in performance. This it truly a remarkable and memorable CD. The CD used is: The Celtic Viol (Jordi Savall, Andrew Lawrence-King et al) - AliaVox AVSA 9878.

Dancing in the Middle ages was one of the most popular pastimes. There are some medieval and Renaissance dances that have come down to us. Unfortunately quite a few of the popular dances were not written down because it was assumed that everybody knew them. On this Continuum you’ll hear some of the 45 or so dances that we do have available from early written sources. Recordings used are: A Dance in the Garden of Mirth (The Dufay Collective) - Chandos CHAN 9320, and Istanpitta II (New York’s Ensemble for Early Music) - Lyrichord LEMS 8022.

Terpsichore was the Greek Muse of the Dance. The name also refers to a collection of Renaissance dances collected by the 17th century Michael Praetorius. This Continuum presents a recording of some of these dances performed by the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra of Paris under the direction of New Orleanean Skip Sempe, The recording used is Terpsichore, Paradizo PA0011.

Continuum presents music performed by the medieval music Ensemble Altramar, founded in 1991 in Bloomington, Indiana. The ensemble specializes in music of the medieval Era, sharing historical repertory. Altramar, in the Occitan language of the troubadours, was the name given to the Near Eastern lands that lay “over the sea;” the lands where Crusade and trade resulted in the rich cultural interchange of East and West. Recordings by Altramar used are: Nova Stella  - Dorian DIS-80142, Saint Francis and the Minstrels of God - Dorian DIS-80143, and Crossroads of the Celts - Dorian DOR-93177.

This week on Continuum you'll hear a recording of a live New Orleans Musica da Camera concert from October 5, 2014. It is “A Voice Still Heard - Medieval Sephardic Song”, recorded at Ursuline Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Chapel in New Orleans. This is a repeat of a concert give by Musica da Camera in 1990 at Gates of Prayer Synagogue in New Orleans and broadcast nationally over American Public Radio. The recording is on the CD, A Voice Still Heard - Belle Alliance BA 011.

This week Continnum presents music from the first music publication of the Italian printer, Ottaviano dei Petrucci (1466-1530), who was the first to publish in 1501 a collection of music of the period  printed using movable type. Included in the selections are chansons, frottole, popular Italian dances & sacred music from that printed collection. Recordings used are: Petrucci - The First Printer of Music (N.Y. Pro Musica) - Copy of LP Decca DL 79435 and Praetorious / Susato (N.Y. Pro Musica) - Universal UMD80565.

History tells us that traveling in medieval times was very interesting for the various countries that could be visited. Naturally traveling in those days took more time then today. This Continuum presents music depicting some of those interesting journeys. Recordings uses are: Traveler (The Waverly Consort) - Angel CDC 7243 5 55559 2 2, and Schiarazula Marazula (Musica Antiqua) - Cantas C 9605.

Very early music was written for the human voices and later including instruments performing the same line of music. The music term, polyphony, refers to two or more different melodic lines that are sung or played instrumentally at the same time. This Continuum presents musical selections of the earliest forms of polyphony for voices and instruments. Recording uses are: The Birth of Polyphony (Various Artists) - Harmonia Mundi - Century 5 and, Die Blasinstrumente aus der St. Wenzelskirche in Naumburg (Krickeberg & Lerch) - Klingendes Museum KM2017-2.

Three important subjects on this Continuum: Love, Song & Carnival. All three are definitely related for the Mardi Gras celebration. They really fit the saying, “You can’t have one without the others!” The music is from five excellent CDs. The CDs used are: A Florentine Carnival (London Pro Musica) - IMP PCD 825, The Second Circle (Anonymous 4) - Harmonia Mundi HMU 907269, Alfonso V el Magnanim (Capella Reial de Catalunya) - Aliavox AV 9816, D’Amor Cantando (Micrologus) - Opus 111 OPS 2033, and Canti Carnascialeschi (Josquin Ensemble - Wien) - Christophorus CD 74538

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