Don’t leave it too late to catch an early music concert

This year the Copenhagen Renaissance Festival will once again offer visitors a glimpse into the working minds of composers working in the early days of classical music, an opportunity to immerse themselves into a living cultural heritage and the chance to listen to Early Music compositions in the way they were originally intended.

This year’s theme is ‘The Birth of Renaissance’, but as festival organiser Björn Ross explains, the festival’s concerts will include pieces from outside the period in order to give an extended perspective of the Medieval Renaissance theme. There are many highlights, but if we were forced to choose two, they would be the opening and closing night concerts. Kicking off the festival is the well-known Jordi Savall, who will be playing both baroque and late Renaissance music. And closing it is an unmissable performance by German ensemble VocaMe, who will perform hymns by the first female Medieval composer Kassia, who lived in Constantinople in the 9th century.

There will also be a series of concerts at the Glyptotek, which promises to be a fantastic venue. Swedish group ensemble Mare Balticum, in particular, promise to be a very popular spectacle, as they offer a brass and bagpipe approach to Renaissance music.

Italian-based ensemble Tetraktys will also be performing again, having made their debut at the first festival in 2006. Having received rave reviews last time they performed, they will this time take to the stage at Holmens Church with a larger six-person constellation. They will perform a programme of music composed by somewhat unknown 15th century composers. Musica Fictas, meanwhile, promise to offer something special with their female-only vocal versions of Dufays and Binchois, which have traditionally been performed by mixed ensembles. And don’t miss Italy’s Ensemble Micrologus, who on November 17 will perform Adam de la Halle’s musical drama based on the legend of Robin Hood: ‘Le Jeu de Robin et Marion’. This Medieval opera is an amazing piece of music, and when performed by a group like Micrologus, who are famous for their energy and rocking attitude, it is sure to be a stunning experience.

Apart from all the great music, there will also be international meetings and conferences during the festival, in collaboration with REMA (European Early Music Network) and NORDEM (Nordic Early Music Federation).

Various venues in Cph; starts Oct 22, ends nov 08;


Top Picks:


Jordi Savall (Spain)
Jordi Savall is an exceptional figure in today’s music world. For more than 30 years he has been devoted to the rediscovery of neglected musical treasures. Both a revered musical director and violist, Savall will be presenting a solo concert, where he will play pieces from Bach, Marais, Sainte-Colombe, Hume and Playford on the viola da gamba, an instrument so refined it will takes people to the very brink of silence.

Holmens Kirke, Holmens Kanal, Cph K; Mon 22 Oct, 20:00; Tickets 125kr, students 75kr, 


Ensemble Micrologus (Italy)
This Italian group performs vocal and instrumental Medieval music, and they include both religious and secular pieces from the 12th to the 16th century in their repertoire. Through research into manuscripts, organology and iconography, and a familiarity with ethnographic research on the musical traditions of the Mediterranean, they revive the sound of the Middle Ages, playing reconstructions of ancient instruments as well as using period wardrobe and scenery. They will be performing ‘Adam de la Halle: Le jeu de Robin et Marion’.

Holmens Kirke, Cph K; Sat 17 Nov, 19:00; Tickets 75-125kr


VocaMe (Germany)
This intriguing German ensemble will be performing hymns by the first Medieval female composer Kassia, who lived in Constantinople in the 9th century.  

Location to be confirmed; Sun 18 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 50-100kr

Other Concerts:


Ensemble Mare Balticum (Sweden)
The backbone of Sweden’s Ensemble Mare Baltic are six extremely talented and dedicated musicians: Ute Goedecke, Per Mattsson, Tommy Johansson, Stefan Wikstrom, Fredrik Persson and Dario Losciale. Many of them sing and teach music, as well as being able to play numerous instruments from the violin to the recorder and even the Gothic harp. This ensemble will be playing music from Musica Alta such as Guillaume de Machaut, Francesco Landini, Philippe de Vitry and Guillaume Dufay.

Glyptoteket, Dantes Plads 7, Cph K; Sun 28 Oct, 15:00; Free Adm


Alba (Denmark)
This two-person team was formed in connection with the first Copenhagen Early Music Festival in 1992 and the Spanish exhibition at the art museum Louisiana in the same year. Since then singer Agnethe Christensen, who originally comes from Sweden and has her musical roots in both classical and folk music, and Poul Høxbro, who has achieved international recognition for his work in recreating a Medieval playing style on the pipe and tabor, have been working together to bring beautiful Renaissance music to the people. They will be performing ‘Lucente Stella’.

Frederiksberg Kirke, Frederiksberg Allé 65, Frederiksberg; Fri 2 Nov, 17:00; Free Adm


Ensemble Tetraktys (Italy)
The Tetraktys was the symbol of the Pythagoreans, an algorithmic number that musically represents the perfect consonants: the unison, the octave, the fifth and the fourth − the tuning that was used in the music of the Middle Ages. This popular ensemble was founded by Kees Boeke in 2000 and has since released four CD recordings. They will be playing pieces by composers including Gautier Libert, Johannes Simon de Haspre, Johannes Le Grant, Franchois Lebertoul, Guillermus Malbecque, Gilet Velut and Mahieu Paullet, among others.

Holmens Kirke, Holmens Kanal, Cph K; Sat 3 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 75-125kr


Ars Nova Copenhagen & Paul Hillier (Denmark)
ARS NOVA Copenhagen is widely recognised as one of the finest vocal groups in Europe. Founded in 1979, the ensemble today is busier than ever. In addition to its annual season of concerts in Copenhagen and throughout Denmark, the ensemble regularly appears across Europe, in North and South America, and Asia. They will be performing pieces by Leonel Power, John Dunstaple, Guillaume Dufayand and Josquin Desprez.

Garnisons Kirke, Sankt Annæ Plads, Cph K; Sun 4 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 50-100kr


Musica Ficta & Bo Holten (Denmark)
Musica Ficta is a professional vocal ensemble who  were founded in 1996 by the Danish composer and conductor Bo Holten. His ambition has been to create an ensemble with great flexibility, ready to explore a wide range of artistic possibilities. They will be focusing on ‘The Birth of the Renaissance’ with introductions and musical examples.

LiteraturHaus, Møllegade 7, Cph N; Mon 5 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 50kr

Reformert Kirke, Gothersgade, Cph K; Sat 10 Nov, 16:00; Tickets 50-100kr at the door
Glyptoteket, Dantes Plads 7, Cph K; Sun 11 Nov, 15:00; Free Adm
KoncertKirken, Blågårds Plads, Cph N; Thu 15 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 50-80kr

Laude Novella (Sweden)
This ensemble consists of professional musicians who have specialised in performing Medieval and early Renaissance music, as well as music from the 15th century, a period when the new sweet sounds became more and more popular. In its most compact form, the ensemble consists of Ute Goedecke (chant, recorders and Gothic harp), and Per Mattsson (Medieval fiddle and lira da braccio). Goedecke and Mattsson will be performing along with special guest Viva Bianca Luna Biffi.

KoncertKirken, Blågårds Plads, Cph N; Thu 8 Nov, 20:00; Tickets 50-80kr


Viva Bianca Luna Biffi (Italy)
This Italian ensemble, which has a passion for early music and specialises in Medieval and Renaissance string instruments, will be performing ‘Fermate il Passo’ with a special focus on poetry and music in Italy around 1500.

Frederiksberg Kirke, Frederiksberg; Fri 9 Nov, 17:00; Free Adm

Currentes (Norwegian)
Currentes was founded in 2006 by its artistic director, Jostein Gundersen. Since then, it has performed in Norway, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. Currentes defines its artistic goals as within the field of historically informed performance and specialises in polyphonic music from the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Its particular interest is the exploration of what has not been transmitted in musical notation, such as instrumentation, improvisation of ornaments, or entire parts. They will be performing ‘Spinato intorno al cor’ with music by Antonio Zacara da Teramo.

Frederiksberg Kirke, Frederiksberg; Fri 16 Nov, 17:00; Free Adm

Decameron (France)
This three-man singing French ensemble features Olivier Marcaud on percussion, Jean-Lou Descamps on the fiddle and cistre, and Christophe Deslignes on the organetto. They will be performing ‘Music and Dances’ from Italy’s Trecento.

Glyptoteket, Dantes Plads 7, Cph K; Sun 18 Nov, 15:00; Free Adm




Italian Baroque Opera Masterclass with Carlos Mena (Spain)
This masterclass will be held by the highly esteemed Carlos Mena, who has sung for audiences around the world at venues such as Kontzerthaus in Vienna, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Alice Tully Hall in New York and the Sydney Opera House, among others. Among his records, ‘De Aeternitate’ (Mirare) was awarded the ‘Diapason D’Or’ prize as the best baroque recital in 2002, and ‘Et Iesum’ (Harmonia Mundi),  which was awarded the ‘Best CD 2004’ title by CD Compact. The target group for this class is professional singers and advanced students, and it is being held in collaboration with Nordic Network for Early Opera.

Koncert Kirken, Blågårds Plads 6A, Cph N; Mon 5 Nov, 10:00-15:00; Price 500kr with 4 participants, 400kr with 5-6 participants, 300kr with 7-8 participants, passive participants 100kr; to participate send a short CV and repertoire to or contact or Björn Ross on 2628 0415 for more info


Recorder Masterclass with Kees Boeke (Netherlands)
Dutch recorder player, cellist and composer Kees Boeke will be hosting this masterclass in collaboration with the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Since 1990, he has held the position of professor of recorder and early music at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Zurich, Switzerland, and at the Institut fur Alte Musik in Trossingen, Germany.

The Royal Danish Music Academy, Rosenørns Allé, Frederiksberg; Mon 5 Nov, 10:00-15:00; for more info, contact Björn Ross, or 2628 0415