American Composer Re-imagines Giovanni Anerio’s Work for the 21st-Century in the Church where Anerio’s music was first performed four centuries ago.

Rome, Lazio/Italy: Five new oratorios, composed by J.J. Wright and based on the works of Giovanni Anerio, will be premiered on Thursday, June 1 at 21:00 at Chiesa Nuova. Sponsored by the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) and the Pontificio Instituto di Musica Sacra (Roma), the concert and will feature a combined chorus of students from both institutions jazz ensemble. The concert is free and open to the public.

The newly composed works are based on the Liturgy of the Word from the Christian Easter Vigil Mass. Five dramatized biblical and devotional scenes based off of Giovanni Anerio's Teatro Armonico Spirituale di Madrigale (1619) are reimagined using the languages of jazz and contemporary music. Teatro was originally created for and performed in the Chiesa Nuova Oratorio Church exactly 400 years ago.

Conceived by Grammy award winning conductor, pianist, and composer J.J. Wright, this work follows the critical success of his Advent and Christmas cantata, O Emmanuel, which quickly became a classical bestseller and spent weeks on top on the Billboard Classical Charts.

The Oratorio Vespertino services in early 17th-Century Rome, including Teatro, were some of the city’s most well attended musical and spiritual offerings. Wright’s new project examines how the Vespertino services at Chiesa Nuova allowed the oratorio form to flourish. Wright’s new oratorios incorporate the best practices of this revered movement in order to spur a rebirth of sacred music and Christian devotion in the 21st century.

Piepaolo Polzonetti, Professor of Musicology at the University of Notre Dame and scholar of Italian music says “Anerio’s oratorios were written to engage the people through drama and music of great immediacy, appealing to the tastes of diverse groups of people. Wright studied Anerio’s style carefully to produce something different but analogous. His music captures the intent of Baroque oratorios to offer a similar experience to us today. This is a project of informed cultural translation and fusion of traditions - Italian and American -  to produce innovative art that has a real purpose.”

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