St Christopher

Adventures of True Love
Event 5
Sunday October 7th, 3.00pm 
Little Missenden Church

Spanish renaissance music
Lorenzo da Firenze
Sento d'Amor
Huelgas Codex
Benedicamus IX
Magister Piero
Chavalcando con un giovine accorto, Ogni diletto
Juan del Encina
Es la causa bien amar, Mas vale trocar, Que es de ti desconsolado
Buxheimer Orgelbuch
Christ ist Erstanden

This is an archived event from the 2012 programme.

CANTAR ALLA VIOLA:  Nadine Balbeisi soprano;  Fernando Marín viella and vihuela de arco

This is an entrancing programme of mainly Spanish music from 14th century gothic to 16th century baroque – hauntingly beautiful but largely unfamiliar to British audiences.  Nadine’s sinuous voice floats through sumptuous but plangent harmonies from Fernando’s vihuela de arco.

Cantar alla viola (singing with the viol) was the art of accompanying the voice with bowed string instruments, using a special bow technique to sustain the harmonies and blend with the human voice.  These skills were lost, but Nadine and Fernando revived them using 16th century sources. Their instruments, bows and strings are painstakingly researched and reconstructed, using pictures and descriptions of historical originals.  They “capture the intimate atmosphere of this music, which has practically disappeared” (Ignasi Albors, CatClassics Web). 

There are two main types of vihuela: the plucked vihuela da mano; and its bowed descendant the vihuela de arco. Fernando plays the bowed version in this concert, and also the viella, a mediaeval predecessor. 


Cantar alla Viola’s performances are illuminated by their research-based understanding, and fuelled by their passion for the music.  They were twice finalists in the early music competition in Antwerp International Young Artists’ Presentation. 

The lithe and distinctive voice of American/Jordanian soprano Nadine Balbeisi fits the sound of the vihuela perfectly.  She became an ‘Artist in Residence’ in Spain, researching and performing 16th century polyphony from the archives of Huesca Cathedral.

Fernando Marín studied with Alexander Fedortchenco and Wieland Kuijken.  He specialises in instruments from the 14th to the 16th centuries, and in researching their origins, performance practice and repertoire. He has written on musical rhetoric and improvisation, and teaches gamba at the Zaragoza Conservatorio.

To access Cantar alla Viola's website, click here.