Detail from Studiolo of Palazzo Ducale Gubbio. Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Federico of Montefeltro (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)


Le Donne Antique Playlist

Behold, O my love, my dove, my beautiful, my beautiful one;
Here he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.
My love is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold my beloved, my beautiful one is standing behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice. My love calls to me: Arise, my darling, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away. Come, my dove.

Maybe the pure white dove in the above mentioned citation was used as metaphor for the women of the ducal Este-family, if we consider that the eagle was the symbol for the male lineage. Indeed, this passage from the Song of Songs was used in a motet by Maistre Jhan, dedicated to Leonora d’Este (1515-1575).  

It is not difficult to see in the dove the metaphor for this noblewoman, abbess and composer. At the age of 8, she decided to enter the Clarissan convent dedicated to Corpus Domini, much to the displeasure of her father Alfonso I d’Este. She wrote numerous musical works mostly in voci pari-setting (equal voices) and as such ideally suited for a female choir.

Another figure who was active in Ferrara around the same period was Ludovico Ariosto. It was for the Ferrarese court that he wrote his masterpiece Orlando Furioso (The frenzy of Orlando).

In our concert program Le Donne Antique (women from the past) we present music from this first half of 16th century Ferrara. We juxtapose the court music to the convent music and investigate, through an imaginary correspondence between Suor Leonora and her niece Anna d’Este (1531-1607), how a nun deprived of physical liberty could enjoy more mental and artistic freedom than her family member at court.


Michel Blockx (trombone, bombard)
Nicholas Cornia (voice, cornetto)
Mieke Dhondt (voice)
Laura Gekiere (voice)
Marleen Leicher (cornetto, recorder)
Catou Pecher (alto trombone)
Goedele Reyniers (voice)
Mirella Ruigrok (recorder, dulcian)
Nikita Semionova (voice)
Rein Van Bree (voice, recorder)
Leo Van Cleynenbreugel (voice)
Lidwien Van Winckel (voice)
Els Wollaert (voice)