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Passion for Madrigal

Interview with InVocare

The ensemble InVocare was founded as part of the AVES (Advanced Vocal Ensemble Studies (AVES) programme at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and brings together singers from all over the world who specialise in singing English and Italian madrigals from the 16th and 17th centuries. InVocare invites you to dive into the highly poetic English music of the late Renaissance.

This article is part of

Bozar Next Generation: 25 Years

How did your ensemble come into being?

In 2016 we all met on the Advanced Vocal Ensemble Studies (AVES) course at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis run by Anthony Rooley and Evelyn Tubb. It was an intensive course where, as a group, we worked our way through a huge amount of repertoire by some of the most well-loved madrigal composers. After the course ended we wanted to continue to explore and perform this amazing repertoire together. The word “invocare” meaning to invoke, summon or call upon, was a bit of a theme in our course, with many madrigals calling upon the muses or various gods or emotions. As a name, InVocare reflects our aim to ‘channel the composers and poets’ of this wonderful repertoire for modern audiences.


How do you self-direct?

We have a general approach to how we start pieces, beginning with reading the text, reading the text in rhythm and singing the notes without words. Once that is done the real spirit of the madrigal tradition begins. We love to discuss each of our interpretations of the poetry alongside the musical painting of the words. Then we experiment with each of these interpretations and see what we find the most convincing as a group.



What are the dynamics of the group? How do the different characters fit together?

Our group is incredibly diverse with members originating from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Iceland, Slovenia, the UK and even as far as Canada, Venezuela, Australia and South Africa. On the AVES course we really became like a family, so we are used to differences of opinion and working around them! One of the advantages to being so diverse is the different strengths that we each have. Whether that be in rhetoric studies, pronunciation of various languages, organisational skills or even playing devil’s advocate, we have all bases covered.


Why did you choose this programme?

This programme is really exciting for us. The works of John Dowland are well-known and well-loved, but they are also incredibly text-driven with rich poetry. So it made total sense for us to ask the question “how might this have sounded in the accents of the time?”. It is such a joy to look at these works through a new lens and hear them in a way that we hope is closer to how they may have sounded when they were originally composed. 


How does it feel to come and play at Bozar?

In a time when the music and arts industries have been suffering, it is really wonderful to be able to begin to present concerts again. Bozar and AMUZ, along with David Crystal, Peter van Heyghen and many other individuals have been incredibly supportive of our work and we are so thankful to be able to bring this fantastic project to life. 


What is the one big dream you would like to fulfill one day?

As a relatively young ensemble, we are in discussions for our next exciting hurdle - funding and recording our debut album. After that, there are so many works both well-known and lesser-known that we would love to explore. Our dream is to be synonymous with the word madrigal. We would love to record and tour regularly and bring our approach to this wonderful music to audiences around the world.