In April 2015 Sestina presented one of the masterpieces of the 17th century: Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. We were privileged to welcome world class exponents of early music The Monteverdi String Band and His Majesty’s Sackbutts and Cornetts who helped us bring the sounds of Venice to Armagh, Dublin, and Belfast. The tour culminated in a festival of Venetian Music that brought the Ulster Museum alive with the sights and sounds of La Serenissima.

Alongside this, we also presented an opportunity for the public to partake in mask and puppet making, alongside juggling demonstrations at the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Then, over the weekend of the 10th-12th of April, renowned facilitator Lucia Vernon Long introduced young children to the world and characters of the Commedia dell’Arte, creating a unique piece of theatre using the music of the Carnival of Venice. The children were also given the chance to write their own madrigal and bring their artistic creation to life using a soundtrack of music by Adriano Banchieri.

“I so much enjoyed the Vespers performances […] I also appreciated the whole breadth of your project with Sestina and how it touched many people and the wider community.”
– Frances Kelly, Harpist


“You have an absolutely fantastic group of people there, which bodes incredibly well for the future, both in NI and for the profession generally. That such a high proportion of them could very conceivably go on to top careers is testament to the work you do with them.”
– Nicholas Mulroy, Tenor Soloist


“The project was a thrill and a delight: it was very refreshing to see young singers taking such pleasure and pride in their achievements and learning so much so quickly.”
– Jeremy West, His Majesty’s Sackbutts and Cornetts


“I thought the whole venture was absolutely splendid and culminated in a pretty
unforgettable Vespers on Sunday evening” – Donal McCrisken, Continuo Harpsichordist

The Monteverdi String Band is a professional period instrument ensemble specialising in early 17th century Italian music, founded by Oliver Webber. The Madrigal Transformed was first performed in Sardinia in 2014, and interleaves 16th and 17th century madrigals with contemporary readings.


His Majesty’s Sackbutts and Cornetts are a group of virtuoso wind players who specialise in playing Renaissance and Baroque music in historically-informed styles on original instruments.


The Madrigal Transformed (Monteverdi String Band) 12th April – Ulster Museum, Belfast
MonteverdiCruda Amarilli
Reading: Artusi – The imperfections of modern music
BassanoRicercata prima
MonteverdiEra l’anima mia
R RognoniDiminutions on Anchor che col partire
Reading – Tesauro: Pleasant and unpleasant sounds
F RognoniDiminutions on Io son ferito
MonteverdiDolente Partita
MonteverdiDances from il Ballo dell’Ingrate
Reading: from l’Orfeo
Monteverdi – from l’Orfeo:
Toccata, Vien’Imeneo, Lasciate i monti, Sinfonia (act 2),
Sinfonia (act 3), Ritornello, Vanne Orfeo, Moresca

The Monteverdi String Band are:
Violin Oliver Webber and Theresa Caudle, Viola Wendi Kelly and David Brooker, Bass Violin Christopher Suckling


Claudio MonteverdiThe Vespers of 1610
Friday 10th April 2015 – St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, ARMAGH
Saturday 11th April 2015 – Christ Church, DUBLIN
Sunday 12th April 2015 – The Ulster Museum, BELFAST

Guest Singers
Nicholas Mulroy – Tenor
Matthew Long – Tenor

Paula Chateauneuf – Theorbo
Fred Jacobs – Theorbo
Frances Kelly – Theorbo
David Adams – Organ
Peter McCarthy – Bass Viol


Sestina vocal ensemble
Musical Director Mark Chambers
Soprano Emer Acton, Fiona Flynn, Sarah Rennix and Caroline Jones, Alto Laura Lamph, David Lee, Laura McFall and Joseph Zubier, Tenor Glenn Murphy, Matthew Keighley and David Walsh, Bass Michael Hong, Brian McAlea, Richard Moore and Aaron O’Hare