There’s a new krewe in town, but it doesn’t parade or throw trinkets. It’s a choral ensemble that specializes in the works of 16th- and 17th-century composers.
This week the Krewe du Voix will make its debut with two public concerts in local churches.
French for “voice,” Voix presents “Christmas with Palestrina and Praetorius” at Trinity Episcopal Church in the Garden District Dec. 6 and at St. Patrick’s Church downtown Dec. 10.
The free, hourlong program will feature two works each by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Michael Praetorius plus several other pieces from the Renaissance and Middle Ages.
Krewe du Voix is the creation of the new organist and choir director at Trinity Episcopal Church, Dr. Paul Weber.
Founded by Weber this summer, the 16-member ensemble consists of professional singers from New Orleans, some of whom are members of the Trinity choir, plus others from the New Orleans area, one from New York and two recent New Orleans transplants from Chicago.
“It’s largely an a cappella program,” Weber explained. “So there’s a lot of pure, tight tuning and phrasing in the voices. That’s sort of the sound we’re going for.”
The centerpiece of the program, Weber said, will be a Palestrina Christmas Mass for five unaccompanied voices based on the Italian composer’s motet, “Missa O Magnum Mysterium.”
Also prominently featured will be selections from Praetorius’ “Musae Sioniae” from the early 1600s, which Weber describes as a compilation of choral, folk and religious music.
Those songs might sound familiar. “That’s where we get some of the Christmas carols that we know and love,” Weber said.
The group will also reach back to 14th century Germany for several early Christmas carols.
In the middle of the program, there will be a set of short solo works from Heinrich’s Schutz’s spiritual concertos. Weber will accompany the singers on harpsichord, as will a baroque cellist who also sings with the choir.
Weber began his tenure as organist and choirmaster at Trinity on Feb. 1, taking the reins from his longtime predecessor, Albinas Prizgintas, who continues to oversee the Trinity Artists Series with his wife, Manon. The transition is going well, Weber said.
“We have a terrific bunch of singers. They’re molding into a really excellent sound now,” Weber said.
An organ and composition double major at the Lawrence Conservatory at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Weber spent a semester studying in Salzburg, Austria, before going on to Yale University. At Yale, he received his master’s and doctorate degrees in musical arts; a baritone, he also sang in choirs there.
Following graduate school, Weber taught at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where he founded their undergraduate sacred music program. He also directed the university choral and orchestra ensembles and taught organ and music theory for eight years.
Prior to his arrival in New Orleans, Weber was the music director at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky, working with choirs for both the Latin and English Masses.
Looking beyond the upcoming Christmas concerts, Weber also has programs planned for the Krewe du Voix for Holy Week in early April.
Titled “Through the Darkness: Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories,” the featured works will be by Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) and English composer Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585).
The churches where the spring concerts will be held are St. Mary’s Assumption in the Irish Channel on April 1 and Immaculate Conception (Jesuit) Church in downtown New Orleans on April 7.
Christmas with Palestrina and Praetorius
A program of sacred music by 17th century composers sung by the Krewe du Voix chamber choir
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Ave.; and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 724 Camp St.
Free; donations accepted.
INFO: (504) 522-0276 or kreweduvoix.com