Ensemble VIII’s fans attend the group’s Renaissance & Baroque concerts in search of something pristine, and that’s usually what they get.
Eight voices. Each offers its own crystal clear, characteristic ring. Yet when their timbres combine, declaiming with excited animation the interwoven melodic lines distinctive of Renaissance vocal music, a magnificent synergy is realized. Take away any one voice, and the product is rendered incomplete. But take them together, and the resulting wash of vibrant tone colors, ultra-precise intonation, and oneness of sound is nothing short of world-class musicmaking.
Then there’s brilliant polyphony. The multiple, intertwining voices are electrifying. But Monteverdi’s piece broke ground because it’s also playing with the budding art form of opera, and the composer’s spotlight often shines on two or three singers who start in unison, before bursting apart into a heart-pulling chord that weaved in and out of the space.
With Ensemble VIII featuring "voices of the highest order," as Michael Kellerman noted in his Chronicle review of the choir's inaugural concert, this program might well plunge you into the most dazzling darkness you've ever known.