The Hyperion Conductus project is the performing and recording arm of Southampton University’s Cantum Pulcriorem Invenire research project: 13th Century Music & Poetry, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, begun in October 2010.
The outcomes of the project include a series of three CDs, Conductus I, II & III (appropriately subtitled) which were released by Hyperion from September 2012 onwards, sung by John Potter, Christopher O’Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump. The live version of the project is accompanied by a specially commissioned video by Michael Lynch.
The Project aims to find a greater understanding of 12/13th century music and poetry, and involves musicologists and scholars led by Mark Everist at the University of Southampton. There will be a monograph for Cambridge University Press in due course, and each of the three CDs will present the results of experimental sessions shedding new light on ancient performance practice. More information is available on the University of Southampton website.
Much of the polyphonic repertory is for two tenors (John Potter & Christopher O’Gorman) but on each CD the singers will be joined for a number of pieces by the Hilliard Ensemble’s Rogers Covey-Crump. The singers meet throughout the year, experimenting with material provided by the Southampton musicologists, but reading as far as possible from facsimiles of the original manuscripts. The first recording was released in September 2012 and received favourable reviews from the musical press.
The Concert version
During 2012 and 2013 the live version of the Conductus project was performed by John Potter and Christopher O’Gorman, accompanied by a film commissioned from Michael Lynch (who created the films for Being Dufay and its successor). 2015 sees a more extensive tour of the project with all three singers (The Three Medieval Tenors) across the UK and Europe. These performances will last about an hour and ideally take place in a medieval church by candle-light. Promoters need to provide (silent) video projection facilities which Michael Lynch will control from his laptop. The performances are themselves experimental, and the singers will use them as occasions to try out ideas that may not bear the inevitable repetition associated with recordings.
Photos by Paul Arthur