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Nota Bene perform as a quartet of viols, in collaborations with ensembles of winds and voices, and with guest viol players and singers. Our current projects include:

Mixed Blessings


In 1569 Clemens Stephani published the first collection of motets by a variety of composers on a single text, Psalm 128, Beati omnes qui timent Dominum. The composers ranged widely, including the revered early 16th century Spanish musician Cristóbal de Morales and the towering presence of Orlando di Lasso, but also representatives of a more local Northern European tradition rarely heard of today.

“Blessed are they who fear the Lord” is a rich text full of imagery depicting our human existence. Many motet and madrigal texts of the 16th century explore the meaning of “blessedness”, from its most refined religious meaning to the day-to-day blessings of love and good fortune.

Our program, performed either as a consort of viols or with guest vocalists, explores these very mixed blessings, in music ranging from exuberant to reflective.

Apt for Voices and Viols


Publishers promoted the two-for-one aspect of the madrigal: “Don’t sing? These pieces are just as satisfying for a consort of viols as for a group of singers; in fact they work great with any combination of viols and voices! Buy one today and thrill your friends!”

Thrill with us on the emotional roller-coaster of Italian and English madrigals.

Humour Me!


The Renaissance mind and body were dominated by the four “humours” – choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic – and their associated elements, colors, fluids, and flavors. Period literature, art, and music are full of references to this world-view, and also reflect it in more subtle ways through the use of key words, colors, and modes.

Our program explores the inner recesses of the connection between musical modes and the theory of the humours, illustrating the wide range of emotional and psychological colors making up the 16th-century palette.