Enhancing contemporary engagement with late medieval music

Award Information

Discipline: Music
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: Communities, Culture and Heritage, Stimulating debate and shifting perceptions
Lead RO: University of Nottingham
Region:East Midlands

Study of a rare early music manuscript has resulted in new historical and performance insights and new exposure for the musicians involved, as well as enlightening experiences for the audiences they have reached over the project duration.

The St Emmeram Codex, as it is known, is an important source of early fifteenth century European part-music. With the help of AHRC funding, a team led by Professor Peter Wright was able to investigate this key, but largely unknown, repertoire and to share it more widely.

Diverse international and new audiences were able to hear this remarkable music for the first time in 500 years as a result of collaboration with professional vocal ensemble Stimmwerck. The audiences at each of the nine separate venues in the four European countries that they played to averaged 300 people a-piece.

It’s not only specialist early music fans who have been touched by the performances. Stimmwerck also played to tourists at European music festivals and the elderly and sick at a social welfare centre, and were delighted to receive spontaneous applause for key sections of the repertoire. The ensemble continues to be in demand, and their involvement in this pioneering project has considerably enhanced their prestige.

For those who missed the opportunity to see the music performed live, it is available on commercial CD, and via leading international online music sites including iTunes.

‘In addition to the performances, we produced a colour facsimile of the Codex, and an accompanying volume, along with a much longer book,’ explains project leader Professor Wright. ‘Together, these establish unique insights into the manuscript’s make-up and history, as well as into the wider working methods of the scribes involved in its production and the world in which they lived.’

The work has transformed understanding of the complex networks of musical exchange in the late Medieval world, and copies of the facsimile are now held in major public reference libraries around the world.

View the manuscript online at: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00001643/images/index.html and click the main image to view its contents.