Friday, May 22, 2015

The Leiden Choir Books

Just another spectacular day. Ho hum. Today was Delft to Leiden, via Den Hague and the dunes. Kilometre-wise, it was a pretty easy day: only 37, and we had the wind at our backs for a lot of it. On the other hand, the dunes on the west coast of Holland must be the hilliest part of the country, so we actually had to do some climbing. 

The dunes are so different from anything we've ridden through thus far and very cool. And they end at the sea. That, friends, is what you call a beach. 

We had lunch with this view and then headed north up the coast before turning inland again toward Leiden. I took some shots while we were riding to give an idea of what the bike paths are like over here. 

Leiden is home to the first university in Holland, founded by William of Orange, and it clearly remains a thriving university town. Lots of bars and young people here. Since it was such a short day on the bike, we arrived in town early and so had time to wander around before the shops closed. We passed by the famous Pieterskerk and noticed that there was a concert there that evening. After inquiring, we learned that it was the first concert in a tour of book 6 of the Leiden choir books, a set of choir books compiled for a group of professional singers employed at the church in the 15th and 16th centuries to sing masses for wealthy deceased people. 

The concert was by Edigius Kwardtet & College, directed by Peter de Goote. The singing was spectacular, and the music, much of it by Claudin de Sermisy took me back to my days playing in l'Ensemble Claude Gervaise over 20 years ago. There's something magical about hearing music performed in such an important historical context like this. It wasn't quite as moving as hearing the Gabrieli Consort performing from the Lerma Manuscript in Lerma, but it was incredibly moving all the same. An unforgettable end to just another spectacular day. 

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