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13915 Burnet Road, Suite 402
Austin, TX 78728
United States

(512) 377-6961

Founded in 1987 by Daniel Johnson, the Texas Early Music Project is dedicated to preserving and advancing the art of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical music through performance, recordings, and educational outreach. 

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Explore more than 700 years of musical transformation

Filtering by Tag: An Early Christmas in Europe

12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Day 10

Danny Johnson


DAY 10 TREAT (DEC. 10, 2014):

It’s the Christmas season, and yet I’m a mean, mean man. Or at least a mean, mean maestro.

I’m making the singers perform in all these languages for the Christmas concert: Medieval French Latin, pre-vowel shift 14th-century English, Renaissance Spanish, 17th-century German Latin, 17th-century French, 17th-century Dutch & Flemish, Italian Latin, Gaelic, and even some English.

I'm getting coal from Santa, I just know it.
An Early Christmas in Yurp in 3 Days.


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12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Days 7 & 8

Danny Johnson


DAY 7 TREAT (DEC. 7, 2014):

Christmas in Killarney

This year we'll have Dennis Day and the Jack Benny Orchestra joining us for ... wait, what's that? 

Oh, sorry, the TEMP Board tells me its not to be. Instead, just one of the pieces we have representing Ireland is Ye sons of men, which has become one of the mainstays of the TEMP Christmas concerts. Like most of the traditional pieces, its origins are murky. 

The poem comes from Father William Devereuxs collection of texts from 1728; the tune is probably traditional; at any rate, it was usually sung during the main mass on Christmas Day. The tradition was passed down through the Devereux family, and was transcribed from a 1980 recording sung  by Jack Devereux, who was then 80 years old. 

Its an amazing tradition and an amazing piece.

6 more days. Be there or be on the next boat to Killarney.


DAY 8 TREAT (DEC. 8, 2014):

For this year’s Christmas concert, we’re performing an a cappella choral work for 8 parts by a composer who is new to us. Giovanni Bassano (c. 1558-1617) was the nephew of the famous Bassano family who moved from Venice to London to be musicians in the court of Henry VIII. I had been aware of him as one of the most famous cornettists in Italy and through his books detailing ornamentation and theory—references I've used in teaching Italian performance practice.

It turns out that he was also a fine composer, and we’re performing his double choir motet Angelus ad pastores in just a few days!

But: the real reason I’m telling you this is because our September performance of La Pellegrina brought a lot of new patrons to us. One of those new patrons is a member of the Bassano family, and still has ties to Italy.

It's a small world!

An Early Christmas in Europe. In 5 Days.
Be there or be on a gondola to Killarney since you missed the last trains to Venice and Clarksville. 

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12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Day 6

Danny Johnson


DAY 6 TREAT (DEC. 6, 2014):

It's the 6th Day. Must be time for French music. Let’s consult The New Oxford Book of Carols, shall we?

Words and languages change. In the late Middle Ages, nouvel an indicated the New Year, the time when carols were most usually sung. That phrase became corrupted to nouel and by the 16th century to noël, and the current use of a noël as a Christmas song was established. Nouvelet can mean both ‘news’ and ‘newness.’

Noël nouvelet, meaning a newly made song for both the New Year and the newly born infant-King, will be performed in 7 days.

That’s all the nouvelet for now. Good night and good luck.
TEMP: An Early Christmas in Europe

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12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Day 5

Danny Johnson


DAY 5 TREAT (DEC. 5, 2014):

It’s the 5th Day so this must be about rings. Let’s see: Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf-lords…oh wait, that’s a completely different carol.

On the second day [Dec 2] we talked about Falalalanlera and today we’ll return to the concert’s Spanish repertoire. Riu, riu, chiu is based on the traditional call of Spanish shepherds and, like Falalalanlera, has a secular version as well. I recall working on this when I was in the 7th grade at Goliad Jr. High in Big Spring. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who learned it at a young age. Remember The Monkees? Yes, it’s true! Just watch YouTube below. The harmonies are a little different, but it’s really sweet!

See ya. Eight days to go. Eight rings to … oh, no, wrong carol again.
TEMP: An Early Christmas in Europe • Be there or be on the last train to Clarksville

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12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Days 3 & 4

Danny Johnson

DAY 3 TREAT (DEC. 3, 2014):

Alright, hands up! How many remember Gaudete, the wonderfully gnarly and spirited version that the British folk-rock group Steeleye Span recorded in the 70s? Yes, their pronunciation left choral conductors and educators a little, um, exasperated, but it was mind-bending and really crossed all sorts of cultural lines. TEMP is performing it for the first time at this year’s Christmas concert. I can’t wait! Though the pronunciation will be more in line with historically informed performance, it will still be spirited and raucous.

An Early Christmas in Europe in 10 days. Except we’ll be in Austin.


DAY 4 TREAT (DEC. 4, 2014):


Our guest harpist, Therese Honey—the fabulous Therese Honey—is playing Nos galan in our Christmas concert. Great, one might think. What the heck is that? 

It possibly originated in Wales in the 16th century, but there are no remnants of the Welsh version of the words. The tune was first printed in 1784 and then became a Welsh folk carol for the New Year. The one they call “Haydn” included the melody in a vocal/piano piece, though it might have been written by one of his students.

The lyrics as we know them were first published in New York in 1881 and really have nothing to do with the original carol. Yes, it’s “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” but, since it’s a flashy harp solo with amazing variations, there will be no falalalalalalalas heard.

That is all. As you were. See you in 9-11 days, depending on which concert you come to!

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12 Days of TEMP Christmas: Days 1 & 2

Danny Johnson


Day 1 treat (Dec. 1, 2014):

This year’s Christmas concert will include an excerpt from the opening scenes of the 12th century “Play of Herod.” I can still recall the way I felt when I first performed it with the NY Ensemble for Early Music at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in 1988. The performance venue was a historically old church with little or no AC; it was a very hot day on our premiere, and with the stage lighting it was 109°F on stage. Add to that the layers of costuming we all had, and it was downright dangerously hot for the performers. They provided a little relief for subsequent performances. The other thing I recall is that, since we were supposed to perform the parts of shepherds as well as the ‘innocents’ to be massacred at the end of the show, I was instructed to shave my beard for the show, and so I did, for the first time in about 18 years. When I showed up in NY for the first rehearsal, they were all amazed that I had actually done it because—get this—I had to then wear a fake beard for the first part of the show when I was a shepherd.

TEMP audiences: don’t fear! We promise it won’t be 109°F in the venues for the concerts and we promise that no beards will be shaven for these performances.

Join us for An Early Christmas in Europe in 12 days!


Day 2 treat (Dec. 2, 2014):

TEMP audiences who attended our Madrigal Mystery Tour concert might recall that we assiduously avoided ‘fa-la-la’ sections. The upcoming TEMP Christmas concert includes a piece that is about as close to a ‘fa-la-la’ as we’ll get this year. Falalalanlera is a 16th-c. Spanish piece that comes in two versions: a secular one that is *maybe* by Mateo Flecha and a sacred one that is *probably* by Bartomeo Cárceres. Both versions were published in different collections a few years apart, in the mid-16th century. *BUT* that’s not the important part: I was introduced to it by Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras at the Hesperion XX workshop in Austin in 1984—holy cow, that was 30 years ago—and I still recall Montserrat dancing in her chair while we students rehearsed it for the concert. The refrain is infectious and fun and she was not shy about letting us know that it made her happy and it made Jordi happy and, man, did that make us happy! Let us try it out on you!

Texas Early Music Project: An Early Christmas in Europe.
In 11 days!

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