The midcoast-based, early-music vocal ensemble Ave Maris Stella will give a set of three June concerts filled with an engaging mix of repertoire chosen to welcome in the summer season. On Friday, June 6, the group will sing at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, 200 Main Street, Thomaston at 7:30 p.m.; on Saturday, June 7, the ensemble will appear at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 33 Chestnut Street, Camden at 7:30 p.m.; and on Sunday, June 8, the group will give a third performance at St. Denis Catholic Church, 298 Grand Army Road (Route 126), North Whitefield at 3:00 p.m. Admission is by donation at the door ($10 per adult suggested). All concert seating is by general admission. FMI: www.avemarisstella.org; 207-236-9413.
Dedicated to fine performances of (mostly) early music, the group will sing secular pieces once heard on the teeming streets of early London, Paris, and Iberia, as well as sacred works that rang out within Europe’s houses of worship. Seasonal repertoire will include Sumer is Icumen In and a set of bird songs spanning some 700 years that culminates with Stanford’s soaring contemporary work, The Blue Bird. On the sacred side, these will be complemented by Monteverdi’s luscious early Baroque motet Adoramus te and Arvo Part’s contemporary stunner Magnificat. Works by Byrd, Attaignant, Ciconia, Gibbons, Palestrina, Perotin, Ravenscroft, and Vautor will round out the program.
Ave Maris Stella performs in wide a variety of languages and styles from English to Latin to Quechua, and from sacred to secular to downright silly. Most works are sung by the whole group, but small ensembles (duets, trios and the like) are also a specialty.
Part of the group’s mission is to bring unusual works to Maine audiences, yet more familiar music by such renowned composers as Byrd, Dufay, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Josquin is also a large part of the repertoire. Ave Maris Stella strives to educate audiences about early music by providing extensive program notes about the music performed.
In addition to the expected liturgical works, Ave Maris Stella sings Sephardic songs, madrigals, and selections from such far-flung locales as Corsica and the Caucasus. While the focus is early music, the ensemble has recently delved into appropriate settings by contemporary composers such as Arvo Part, Francis Poulenc, John Tavener, Maurice Durufle, and the Hungarian Lajos Bardos.
AMS is unusual in that it is collectively run. Membership is by audition, and singers share the responsibility of bringing music selections to the group. They also take turns teaching and leading.
Founded early in the twenty-first century, Ave Maris Stella (which translates to “Hail, Star of the Sea”) has performed at various venues around Maine including Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Blue Hill Congregational Church, the Henry Knox Mansion and the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Thomaston, the Camden Opera House and Public Library, St. Denis Catholic Church in Whitefield, First Church in Belfast, as part of the St. Margaret's Church music series in Belfast, Elan Fine Arts Gallery in Rockport, Harbor Square Gallery in Rockland, and as part of the Rockland Public Library’s music series.