In Mulieribus (the Latin phrase meaning “amongst women”) is a female vocal ensemble dedicated to the promotion and enrichment of community through the art of music with a focus on works written primarily before 1750. From our inception, In Mulieribus' mission has included both an artistic and philanthropic component.
Founded in 2004, In Mulieribus (IM) presents its own annual concert series in Portland, Oregon. The ensemble has also appeared as guest artist at the Portland Art Museum, the University of San Diego, and the Multnomah County Library. Upcoming performances include the 2011 Abbey Bach Festival and the Linfield Lively Arts Concert Series at Linfield College. Performances by IM have been broadcast on nationally syndicated radio shows such as Performance Today and Millennium of Music. IM has self-released three recordings to date, all of which have been featured as Critics' Picks in The Oregonian newspaper. The first, Notre Dame de Grâce, presents conductus compositions from the late twelfth century, and the second, In Mulieribus: LIVE, is a compilation of live recordings from concerts between 2004-2008. The third CD, A December Feast, was released in October of 2010 and features music for the various feasts in December, including of course, Christmas.
The ensemble has recently reached beyond its focus on early music to highlight works by women composers and to support new music. IM has given three world premieres since December of 2008: “The O Antiphons” by Norwegian composer Wolfgang Plagge; “There is no Rose” by local composer, John Vergin; and “Magnificat” by Richard Toensing.
In Mulieribus is a 501 (c)(3) organization.
Anna Song - Artistic Director, Conductor
Kari Ferguson - Soprano
Shaelyn Schneider - Mezzo Soprano
Ann Wetherell - Soprano
Jo Routh - Alto
Catherine van der Salm - Soprano
Susan Hale - Alto
Hannah Penn - Mezzo Soprano
Notre Dame de Grâce (2007)
In Mulieribus: LIVE (2008)
A December Feast (2010)
Song of the nuns of Chester
A December Feast (in Mulieribus)
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December 15, 2010 ’Tis the season of overfamiliar musical comfort food, so this unusual repast fr...December 15, 2010
’Tis the season of overfamiliar musical comfort food, so this unusual repast from one of the Northwest’s premier vocal ensembles, the all-women early music group In Mulieribus (“amongst women”), is even more welcome than usual. The last millennium contains more 12th-month music than the carols you hear at the mall and, too frequently, the concert hall. The splendid sounds on the group’s glorious new CD, A December Feast ($15), all associated with December liturgical feasts on the Christian calendar, range from 13th-century works to music by contemporary composers Maurice Duruflé, Peter Maxwell Davies and Portland’s John Vergin.
Half the tracks originated in the 15th century or earlier, including the most substantial: shimmering “Sederunt Principes,” by the great 12th-century composer Perotin, whose mesmerizing organum technique creates a rich tapestry of interweaving vocal lines. It’s probably the most beautiful sound you will hear this season. Many early music groups excel at a single style, but In Mulieribus floats through ethereal medieval and modern works as expertly as it soars over more exuberant music by the great Renaissance composers Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria, and a full-throated “Personent Hodie” adeptly arranged by Craig Kingsbury.
The reverberant acoustics of Portland’s St. Stephens Cathedral, where the album was recorded in 2009, produce a serene, echoey sound that, thanks to the group’s precision and smart choices by director Anna Song, never lapses into blurriness or gooeyness. Unlike some groups that strive for a uniform blend that sometimes descends into mashed-potato blandness, Song so adroitly balances the voices that we can bask in their rich harmonies while at the same time hearing each distinctive voice clearly.
While you’re unlikely to have heard much of this music before, you’ll certainly appreciate its stirring, comforting beauty. It’s the musical equivalent of a hot toddy, ideal for a season that makes us crave musical warmth with a little kick. The group will sing some of this material, along with much more music from medieval monasteries, Renaissance cathedrals, and even the 20th century, plus some traditional European carols, in concert next Tuesday. It’ll be the best classical concert of the season.
Divine, Delightful, Delovely: The Latest from In Mulieribus
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With each new CD, the Portland-based women's polyphony group In Mulieribus, specializing in early mu...With each new CD, the Portland-based women's polyphony group In Mulieribus, specializing in early music and drop-dead gorgeous presentations of liturgical and non-liturgical religious music, just seems to get better and better.
Their latest offering, A December Feast, came as a shock to me even given my high expectations. It opens with O regem coeli by Tomas de la Victoria, a piece that is usually sung by mixed voices or all-male voices but takes on a completely new meaning and significance as sung by high voices in four parts. The integration of the voices strikes me as flawless, and the natural expression causes this perfect sound to take flight. The result is truly breath taking. It causes one to wish that this group would record vastly more along these lines to illustrate the merit of women's voices in liturgical polyphony and also to demonstrate just how flexible the choral compositions of the Renaissance really are.
Along the same lines, we have presentations of compositions by Palestrina, along with modern examples of arrangements of medieval music alongside reconstructions of medieval organum with texts from the Graduale Romanum. The version of Sederunt principes by Perotin is fully 13 minutes long and epic in its tonal and dramatic sweep - absolutely unforgettable and brilliant.
The theme here is of course December and its feasts, from Immaculate Conception through Christmas. I'm not usually on the look out for seasonal CDs but it seems like every year brings one that is so surprising, so interesting, so gorgeous, that is worth recommending as something to have and hold. This is certainly my suggestion for this year. This music brings both new meaning and new sounds to the entire season.
In Mulieribus has always struck me as one of this nation's great treasures, a group that has had no splashy commercial success - it is made up of professional and semi-professional singers in one of the most musical cities in the country - but deserves adulation and recognition from anyone who is serious about both high art and great religious music. Everything this group has done is worth hearing but with this new album, the group has surpassed its previous heights and given us something truly glorious. You can preview some songs and purchase the entire package here.
In Mulieribus in Love--Sacred and Profane
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In Mulieribus was joined by instrumentalists Philip Neuman and Gayle Neuman on Friday, February 13th...In Mulieribus was joined by instrumentalists Philip Neuman and Gayle Neuman on Friday, February 13th in a concert called Love—Sacred and Profane. They performed in the special acoustical space at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in southeast Portland.
The performance opened with a piece dedicated to the more lustful side of love. Anyone familiar with Carl Orff’s wildly popular setting of the Carmina Burana would have instantly recognized the Tempus est Iocundum. Executive Director Tuesday Rupp did the bulk of the singing as alto soloist, and was accompanied by Gayle Neuman on the vielle, an early, five-stringed bowed instrument closely related to the violin family.
Rupp’s robust, impassioned interpretation set the tone for the evening, as she pushed her delivery towards, but never across, the line of complete abandon, reflecting perfectly the meaning of the text. In the past Rupp has shown her abilityto give the impression of singing perilously close to the edge of control and then reign it back in (thereby demonstrating complete control). The effect imparted by this technique is profound, and is indicative of the high level of musicianship to be found in this ensemble as a whole. The audience had all it could do to refrain from thunderous applause until after certain pre-designated sections, as was requested in the program.
IM then did an abrupt about-face with O rosa bella by John Beldyngham (1422-1460.) The change was so immediate and complete as to almost be startling. The singing was heart-achingly tender, morphing from the intensity of the first work into a warm, luscious blanket of sound in which the listener could feel the meaning of the Italian without ever having to look at the translation.
Philip and Gayle Neuman then played three short tunes that demonstrated talent across a wide array of ancient instruments. They took a few moments to explain what they were about to play. The short tunes in this section from a large collection by Alfonso el Sabio, were played first with the vielle and tabor pipe (actually two instruments; a drum that is beat with one hand while the drummer plays a three-holed fife with the other hand.) The cittrole, a small flat-backed instrument reminiscent of a mandolin but plucked with a feather, was next, and Philip played a small, gentle sounding bagpipe for the third tune in this set.
Throughout the evening the Neumans joined in on recorders, many varieties of stringed instruments both bowed and strummed, primitive bassoons and small drums of all kinds (A.D. Anna Song also played percussion.) Gayle Neuman in particular joined on the vielle in a number of works, and the warmth and precision of her playing added greatly to the enjoyment of this concert.
In the second half of the concert, the song Moys de May by Dufay left one longing for a merrier and more sanguine month than February. Singers and instrumentalists alike deftly navigated the sudden, brief and tricky shifts in meter.
The transition from the music of Western Europe to the songs by the minnesänger (Germany’s version of the trouveres and troubadours) was obvious. The songs were more homophonic than some of the other works, but this allowed IM to display precision and unanimity of movement.
Control seemed to be the watchword of the evening, and the beauty and uniqueness of the German works left one with great regret that such a small portion of this repertoire survives.
Soprano Catherine Van der Salm sang the solo part of Under der Linden by Walther von der Vogelweide (c.1170-c.1230) with poise and exactness. Her deft control and delicate, plaintive insistence lent an emotional power to this work that was undeniable. She maintained a sweet timbre and showed remarkable evenness of vibrato that were truly worth hearing. IM newcomer Kristen Buhler, an mezzo-sooprano, also stood out with her rendition of another German song Meienzît, her precise and yet open delivery showing that she fits well with a group of this caliber.
Like other performances by In Mulieribus, this concert was peppered throughout with surprises. The programming allows listeners to get a sense of the tremendous variety in European art song throughout the many centuries spanned in their repertoire. The true wonder of IM’s performances is the simple joy inherent in listening to these accomplished scholar-singers throw everything they have into their craft, and it never ceases to delight and amaze.
In Mulieribus manages a late Christmas treat
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December 2008 Like many of us stymied by the winter weather, the women's vocal group In Mulieribu...December 2008
Like many of us stymied by the winter weather, the women's vocal group In Mulieribus (whose name is Latin for "among women") was late with a Christmas gift: Its Dec. 22 concert had to be moved to Sunday, Dec. 28. But a full house at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church received it gratefully, and well they should have, as this septet is among the most accomplished and appealing new ensembles formed in Portland in several years.
The foundation of the thoughtfully designed program was the so-called "O antiphons," a set of seven responses which have accompanied the "Magnificat" at Vespers during the last week of Advent for centuries. Each is based on one of the attributes of the messiah as named by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament (and preceded by 'O,' hence the name): 'O Sapientia"("O Wisdom"), "O Radix Jesse"("O Root of Jesse") and so on.
In the first half, each antiphon was offered in plainsong along with other thematically related pieces ranging from works of Hildegard von Bingen and Perotin to 13th-century French carols to Renaissance motets. Even though all but one of the pieces in this half was written before the 17th century, there was huge variety in technique and expressiveness, without a dull moment.
The second half opened with a setting of the "Magnificat"by Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina followed by a new setting of the O antiphons by contemporary Norwegian composer Wolfgang Plagge. The latter was a world premiere -- the piece was written in 2003 for an ensemble which disbanded before performing it -- as well as a fascinating and promising foray into new music for In Mulieribus. Its bitonal harmonic language was modern, but the structure and meditative mood clearly echoed sacred settings from many centuries before.
Under the direction of the felicitously named co-founder Anna Song, the singing was exquisite, with nicely-turned phrases and a well-blended pure tone. The six singers (Tuesday Rupp, Kari Ferguson, Jo Routh, Catherine van der Salm, Shaelyn Schneider and Ann Wetherell) have years of experience both as scholars and singers, often working together in other Portland ensembles, and it showed. They were sensitive to the music, the texts, each other and the live acoustic in the room.
In Mulieribus is reminiscent of the all-female it group of early music in the 1990s, Anonymous 4. Now that that ensemble has formally broken up (and has gone over largely to American folk music when it does reunite), there's a place to be filled, and these women are on course to being able to fill it.
In Mulieribus Does it Again
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October 2008 The new recording by In Mulieribus, a Portland-based, all-women vocal ensemble that ...October 2008
The new recording by In Mulieribus, a Portland-based, all-women vocal ensemble that specializes in early music, just arrived, and once again I can't take it off the CD player. Here it is.
The recording was made from live performances from 2004-2008. I often cringe when I see something described as live because it often means background noise and horrid clapping but there is none of that here - which I point out if that would deter you in the same way it might me.
Like their previous CD, they manage to unite scholarship, performance excellence, and accessibility. So you learn from their musical discoveries (there are many on this CD), you are astounded at the mastery and balance, and it is immediately affecting even for someone who has not somehow cultivated a specialist's taste in early music. Even more a listener who knows none of this music, their performances make the genre very convincing.
The CD explores a greater range of repertoire, including Renaissance polyphony (Victoria, Palestrina, Morley, Morales), which is precisely the music I was aching to hear them sing after listening to their first CD. I'm not sure that there is anything else like this on the market: women's voices taking on this music with vigor and excellence.
There are revelations here too, such as the Anon. "Portum in ultimo"; (which could be ancient or modern or anything in between), Machaut's "Quand j'ay l'espart" and the deeply emotional "Adieu m'amour, adieu ma joye" by G. Dufay. There is a Christmas theme at work also with "O Magnum mysterium," Durufle's "Tota plulchra es," and a wonderful version of the traditional carol "Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen."
There is not a note out of place. It is inspiring CD too, not only for women who aspire to sing this music, in either a liturgical or performance context, but for anyone interested to see how this early music can speak to us so magnificently in our time. An excellent job. I'm not entirely sure how the marketing end of singing groups works but it strikes me that there is a great future for these singers.
Review of Notre Dame de Grâce
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December 2007 CD: In Mulieribus, Notre Dame de Grâce (self-produced): In Mulieribus ("Among Women...December 2007
CD: In Mulieribus, Notre Dame de Grâce (self-produced): In Mulieribus ("Among Women") consists of seven Portland female singers who sing music written mainly before 1750. Here, they sing 10 medieval chants of stark, enchanting beauty from the famous Notre Dame school. The singing is rhythmically vital, often exuberant, and the sound pure and graceful.
Several programs are available, including a Christmas/Winter Holiday program.
PROGRAM OPTION #1 (SPRING)
Organum: Kyrie Cunctipotens Genitor [Anonymous, Codex Calixtinus (c. 1160)]
Conductus: O Maria Virginei [Wolfenbüttel MS, 1099 (12th c.)]
Motet: Psallat chorus/Eximie pater/Aptatur [attr. Franco of Cologne (c. 1260)]
Ballata: Ecco la primavera [Francesco Landini (c. 1325-1397)]
Ballade: Riches d’amour [Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-1377)]
Rondeau: Ce moy de may [Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474)]
Plainchant: Ave verum
Motet: [Josquin des Prés (c. 1440-1497)]
Cantilena: Flos florum[Dufay]
Lamentations [Antoine Brumel (c. 1460-c. 1515)]
HETH: Cogitavit dominus
CAPH: Defecerunt prae lacrimis
Madrigal: Ahi, che quest’ occhi mieI [Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1526-1594)]
Madrigal: Occhi dolce e soavi [Luco Marenzio (1553/4-1599)]
Justiniane: Sanita e allegrezza [Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605)]
[Giacomo Fogliano (1473-1548)]
[Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)]
[David MacIntyre (b. 1952)]
PROGRAM OPTION #2: A Saturday Lady Mass
Carol: Ther is no rose of swych vertu [British, 15th century]
Inroit: Rorate Caeli [plainsong]
Kyrie: Rex virginum amator [anonymous, 13th century]
Gradual: Tollite portas [plainsong]
Alleluya: Virga Jesse floruit [Lady Mass]
Cantilena: Generosa Jesse plantula [anonymous, 14th century]
Prosa: Missus Gabriel de celis [Lady Mass]
Carol: Angelus ad virginem [anonymous, 14th century]
Offertory: Recordare virgo mater [Lady Mass]
Sanctus: Maria mater egregia [Lady Mass]
Agnus Dei: Factus homo [Lady Mass]
Communion: Beata viscera [plainsong]
Carol: There is no rose of such virtue [John Vergin (b.1954)]
*** intermission ***
Resonet in laudibus [anonymous, 15th century]
Magnificat [Richard Toensing (b. 1940)]
Jeff Parsons, harp
Huron Carol [Jean deBrebeuf (1593-1649), arr. by Jeff Parsons (b. 1964)]
Christmas Theme and Variations [Ann Kapp Andersen (b. 1945)]
This Little Babe [Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), From Ceremony of Carols]