In 2012, TENET began a series titled TENEbrae to honor the rich and dark repertoire composed for Holy Week throughout Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Named for the haunting service marked by the extinguising of candels during Holy Week, TENEbrae can be a powerful time that marks a transition from darkness to light during the year. The inaugural performance featured François Couperin's famous Leçons de Ténèbres pour Mercredi as a tribute to Montserrat Figueras in a performance deemed "soulful" and "elegant" by the New York Times.
TENEbrae expanded in 2013 to include weekly offerings throughout Lent in a series that was co-presented by TENET and Trinity Wall Street. The 2013 series opened with a performance of Dietrich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri. Though not strictly part of the traditional tenebrae service, the seventeenth-century master’s mesmerizing set of seven meditations on the wounded parts of Christ’s crucified body is hauntingly beautiful. Settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah by three Renaissance masters Thomas Tallis, Tomás Luis de Victoria and Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday by Carlo Gesualdo created stark chiaroscuro affects throughout the series. The gentle lyricism and expressive vocal writing of French Baroque masters François Couperin and Marc-Antoine Charpentier made their Leçons de Ténèbres particularly moving.
TENEbrae returned in 2014 with five weekly performances at St. Ignatius of Antioch, TENET's resident church. The 2013 series was marked by extensive collaborations with highly acclaimed ensembles including Antioch Chamber Ensemble, The Sebastians, Nota Bene viol consort, and a spectacular lineup of artists in the following programs: Robert White’s Lamentations of Jeremiah, François Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres, Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas, Carlo Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Good Friday, and Samuel Capricornus’s Zwei Lieder von dem Leyden und Tode Jesu.
In 2015, we will offer one special event to close our series of Lenten offerings: Carlo Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday in a completion of our three year cycle to perform all of Gesualdo's tenebrae responsories. We hope you will join us for this final event in what has been a tremendous experience for performers and audience alike.
Tickets for TENEbrae 2015: Carlo Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday are available here!
Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsory Videos:
| The New York Times | Vivien Schweitzer
Violin Sonatas Suffuse Lent: Daniel S. Lee Plays ‘The Crucifixion’ for Tenet’s TENEbrae
The Sonata No. 10 “The Crucifixion,” by the 17th-century virtuoso violinist Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, unfolds in a blaze of effects, beginning with slashing chords perhaps intended to depict the nailing of Jesus to the cross.
The violinist Daniel S. Lee offered a fleet-fingered, passionate interpretation of the work on Saturday at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, part of Tenet’s TENEbrae series commemorating Lent.
The 18th-century English historian Charles Burney wrote that “of all the violin players of the last century, Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are the most difficult and most fanciful of any music I have seen of the same period.” Biber composed a large catalog of instrumental and vocal music, but is largely remembered for his violin sonatas.
“The Crucifixion” is one of his Mystery Sonatas, inspired by the Mysteries of the Rosary, Catholic meditations on Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Biber included an image depicting the relevant Mystery with each score. The closing Passacaglia (given a soulful performance by Mr. Lee) features a picture of an angel and child. Mr. Lee and the violinist Nicholas DiEugenio joined for Biber’s fiery Partita No. 5, accompanied by Hank Heijink on theorbo and Jeffrey Grossman on chamber organ (all members of The Sebastians.)
Biber’s mystery sonatas and set of seven partitas all use scordatura, which requires each string on the violin to be tuned differently, producing a wide range of sonorities and colors. Biber integrated scordatura to darken the violin’s sound in “Crucifixion” and Sonata No. 9 “Carrying of the Cross,” evocatively rendered by Mr. DiEugenio.
Between the instrumental segments, four members of Tenet Chant Schola — Donald Meineke, Brian Giebler, Timothy Hodges and Thomas McCargar — slowly moved around the church as they sang solemn plainchant.Read Article
| The New Yorker | Alex Ross
In February and March, during the six weeks of Lent, the vocal ensemble tenet presented a series called “tenebrae,” given over mainly to Renaissance and Baroque settings of...Read Article
| The New York Times | Zachary Woolfe
As the Cantatas Unfurl, a Reprieve Is Affirmed
Jolle Greenleaf, the artistic director of Tenet and a soprano who can both float and focus, led an excellent group of singers that featured the soprano Molly Quinn, the alto...Read Article
| The New York Times | Vivien Schweitzer
French Baroque Rays of Light Pierce Lenten Shadows
The theorbo player Hank Heijink and the gamba player Sarah Cunningham offered soulful, elegantly wrought interpretations of three selections from Marais’s Pièces de Viole, Book 5, ...Read Article