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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Duo presents Jewish and secular music of medieval Florence

Corina Marti and Doron Schleifer
Dirk Letsch
La Morra
Corina Marti and Doron Schleifer

Countertenor Doron Schleifer and keyboardist/recorder player Corina Marti are Basel, Switzerland-based musicians immersed in music that survives in manuscripts and through oral traditions that existed from the Middle Ages. At 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 10 at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo, they will perform Jewish songs and secular pieces that could be heard in Florence, Italy in the 14th century. The concert is part of the Connecting Chords Music Festival.

The questions that swirl around centuries-old practices "keep me humble," says Marti. Descriptions from the 14th century call for a "high, sweet" sound. "What does that mean?" she asks. Marti and Schleifer agree that along with close study of the sources, they use their own choices and instincts to bring ancient music to life in a way that can change from day to day.

Marti and Schleifer are both members of the acclaimed early music ensemble La Morra, which Marti co-directs with her husband, Polish musician Michal Gondko. Gondko takes on the task of interpreting old manuscripts and transcribing them into modern notation for the group. But to achieve the sound they want, the group learns to hear pitches in tunings that pre-date today's equal temperament standard.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb 23 left both performers feeling concern and distress for fellow musicians caught up in the conflict. "Make art, not war" says Marti.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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