About the Workshop

Bram Wayman and the students of the Workshop examine, and explore, the role of rhetorical gesture in the music of Purcell.

The Musical Rhetoric Workshop holds several working sessions, typically two hours each, that are a cross between practicum and rehearsal. Vocalists and instrumentalists begin by working separately, just to prepare the notes. When all musicians assemble together, we begin our study of rhetorical techniques, learning them one by one, trying them out on different musical lines, and folding those lines into rehearsal. The workshop concludes with a performance of the season's repertoire, which is open to the public.

The workshop sessions explore a variety of approaches to musical rhetoric. Students identify individual sonic gestures and improvise their own, explore techniques such as bow pressure and vowel choice to perform them, read Baroque and modern authorities on the use and origins of rhetoric, analyze music to discover its dramatic and structural underpinnings, and offer feedback on each other’s work. Readings and a bibliography are provided for students to want to research further.

The repertoire for the 2022–2023 season is Carissimi’s Jonas, a seminal oratorio telling the story of Jonah and the Whale. It is scored for eight-part chorus, strings, and continuo, so vocalists, string players, lutenists, gamba players, organists, and the like are encouraged to join!

The final performance of the autumn 2019 workshop: music from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

Get in touch

Bram Wayman, director