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Elizabeth I: Ruler & Legend[CD]
~ Forces of Virtue Ensemble
The early music ensemble The Forces of Virtue displays the wealth of important music from the Renaissance and the Baroque, with an emphasis on neglected sacred and dramatic compositions of the 15th through 18th Centuries. The Forces of Virtue, founded in 2003 by director Alexander Bonus, structures it's programs to reflect contemporary life, issues, and culture, proving that great art of the past can have profound relevance to modern society. The name of the ensemble is drawn from the opera la Forza della Virtú by Baroque composer Reinhard Keiser. This namesake also embodies the tenets of The Forces of Virtue; that art can be a force for good and a catalyst for positive change, educating audiences, enriching lives, creating stronger communities, while stimulating thought and action. In January 2003, The Forces of Virtue made their debut with A Concert for Peace, a thematic program of war and peace music from the Renaissance. Utilizing over 30 professional singers and instrumentalists from the Chicago area, the two benefit performances of A Concert for Peace raised one thousand dollars for the charity Doctors Without Borders. Their second program, Handel's Muse, presented the modern world premieres of opera excerpts from Claudius (1703), la Forza della Virtú (1700) - both composed by Keiser - and Cleopatra (1704) by Johann Mattheson. Along with more ground breaking programs scheduled in 2004, long-term projects include the first modern performances and recording of Missa Integra (c.1723) by Antonio Caldara. This forgotten sacred work for large orchestra and choir may have significantly influenced the religious music of J.S.Bach. The ensemble is currently seeking funding to complete the new music edition and the presentation of this baroque masterpiece. Elizabeth I : Ruler and Legend, released in November 2003, is the debut recording by The Forces of Virtue. It also inaugurates the ensemble's independent CD label, Forces of Virtue Records. The CD (FVE 4293), intended as the musical companion to the largest North American exhibit ever created to honor Elizabeth I, features the world premiere recording of 'Nil maius', a 1527 political motet dedicated specifically to her father Henry VIII. As part of the American Library Association's traveling panel version of the exhibit, this recording will be heard around North America for years to come.
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