Project Isabella Leonarda, 1620-2020!

Suor Isabella Leonarda (6 September, 1620 – 25 February, 1704) was the most prolific of all women composers in the 17th century. She published no fewer than 20 collections of motets and other sacred music, nearly 200 compositions spanning virtually every genre of sacred music of her time, as well as the only complete collection of instrumental works by a Italian woman in the 1600s.

To celebrate her fourth centennial, Cappella Artemisia has prepared a special video. It includes a presentation by Candace Smith of music in early Italian convents, talks by the choral conductor Elena Borzoni and the musicologist Paolo Monticelli, both from Isabella’s hometown of Novara, who will discuss her life and works, and a brief introduction to our exciting “virtual choir” performing one of her pieces (a simple canon called, amazingly enough: “Canon Coronato”!). The canon (starting at 27:23) features 170 participants, musicians both amateur and professional, singers and instrumentalists, women and men from the worlds of early music and jazz, from 8 countries and 3 continents, all joining forces in honor of a woman composer, which we think is pretty great.

The video is available here on Youtube from Sept. 6, 2020.

And for anyone interested in performing this piece, here is a link to the the score and a clicktrack with the melody, in case you want to perform it virtually. We’ve attached an English translation of the Italian text as well.

Happy Birthday, Isabella!