Behind The Scenes with Convivium Musicum

Convivium MusicumA Behind The Scenes Look With Convivum Musicum

On Sunday, February 7,  Cambridge Dance Company will be performing to live music by Boston-based Convivium Musicum.  We asked President and member Sarah Spinella to share some behind the scenes insights on the collaboration and the show.

1) What can audiences expect from the performance?

Convivium Musicum has performed Renaissance choral music for nearly three decades. We specialize in vocal music originally written in the 1400-1600s, unaccompanied by instruments. This particular program, Musica Poetica, explores the use of rhetoric in music.

2) What was the motivation / inspiration to incorporate dance?

Although Convivium has collaborated with other instrumental groups such as the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Viola da Gamba Society of New England, we have not yet touched the world of  dance. I know our Music Director, Michael Barrett, has been interested in incorporating dance for quite some time, and I, too, am interested in how a choreographer is inspired to incorporate movement with sound. I have seen dance greatly enhance the meaning of music – most recently when the Boston Ballet danced to Mahler this fall. I love it when two artistic mediums can collaborate together and bring greater understanding to each other in the process.

3) Tell us a little about the piece of music to which we will be dancing.

“Sing Joyfully” is probably the most well known of the pieces on our program. It was written in the late 15th century by English composer William Byrd as a jubilant church anthem, the text of which is drawn from four verses of Psalm 81: “Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob! Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol. Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob”. The piece has six different vocal parts which sort of “dance” around each other as they repeat each line of the psalm, rejoicing together in song.

4) How is Convivium preparing for the show?  What are rehearsals like?

For our winter season, Convivium rehearses weekly on Wednesday nights from September to January. Each week we gather at the United Parish Church in Brookline, and our conductor Michael leads us through vocal warm ups and tuning exercises, followed by careful reading of our music. We focus on careful interpretation of the music and singing together as an ensemble.

5) Any fun facts about the company or the show?

Convivium is a 501c(3) non-profit run entirely by its singers who serve on the board of directors. We’ve been around for almost thirty years, and this is our ninth season under the musical direction of Michael Barrett.

6) How can people get tickets to the performance?

Tickets are available for purchase online at or at the door on the day of the performance. We offer discounts for students/seniors/low income, and children may attend for free.

7) What’s next for Convivium?

In the spring, we will collaborate with the 7 Hills Renaissance Wind Band to perform the Regensburg Manuscript, a collection of six partbooks of late 16th century polyphony.  Visit or find us on Facebook for more information!