"Missa Maria Zart" project in Basel, Switzerland


Cappella Pratensis © Hans Morren

31 March 2023

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis is one of the world's leading institutions when it comes to early music.

For several years, the Alamire Foundation has been working closely with the Schola - a valuable partnership that was rekindled this month when ensemble in residence at the Alamire Foundation Cappella Pratensis traveled to Basel at the end of March for a study day and a prestigious concert on the Missa Maria zart by Franco-Flemish polyphonist Jacob Obrecht. This one-hour mass is one of the great compositional monuments of the Renaissance. The cantus firmus melody was skilfully divided by Obrecht into small segments that permeate the entire mass, resulting in an exuberant aural result.

Marc Busnel created a new, completely handwritten choirbook commissioned by the Alamire Foundation from which the ensemble performed the Mass in the Peterskirche in Basel. The concert preceded a study day at the Musik-Akademie Basel, entirely devoted to Maria zart. Obrecht's song, the mass and the connection with Basel, as well as elements of style, context and performance were discussed. Stratton Bull (Alamire Foundation staff member), Marc Busnel, and Peter de Laurentiis (research associate of the Alamire Foundation) of Cappella Pratensis presented the lecture ‘Choirbook versus partbooks: pros and cons for performance’.