Music in the time of Dante

Photogravure print of woman sitting, in halo of light near low brick wall with bird in her lap and figures in background.
Fred Miller (British, active 1887-1905) after painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882), Beata Beatrix (Blessed Beatrice), 1892, photogravure. Purchased, 2009. Print Collection, Archives and Special Collections. 2009.0107

Atrium, Arts West Building, Professors Walk, The University of Melbourne.

Join Archives and Special Collections for a special vocal and instrumental performance of music in the time of Dante Alighieri, in a celebration of the exhibitions illustrating Dante's life and work in the Baillieu Library and the Arts West Building.

Held in collaboration with the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, and led by Head of Voice, Stephen Grant, the event will feature Ruth Wilkinson and John Weretka, Directors of the Medieval and Renaissance Ensemble performing a repertoire of music from the 13th and 14th centuries, along with BMUS student and countertenor Kip Philips.

This program features madrigals, ballate and caccie from the Italian ars nova, alongside lyric poetry of the Troubadours and clerics of Dante’s time. These works show a range of sacred and secular poetry and a huge variety of musical styles, from 13th century laude, sacred songs performed by spiritual confraternities, late liturgical works from the traditions of sacred chant composition, and poetry that speaks to both the worlds of courtly love and deep Christian meditation. Works by Jacopo da Bologna, Francesco Landini, Philip the Chancellor and Bernart de Ventadorn.

The performance will begin on the Atrium stair of the iconic Arts West building before moving to the Gallery on the ground floor, where audience seating will be provided.


Stephen Grant was born in Montreal, Canada. He is a singer, teacher and conductor, and is the director of the vocal ensemble e21. His professional career began in Europe, where he established working relationships with some of Europe's best-known early music ensembles — Sequentia, the Ferrara Ensemble and Ensemble Organum de Paris, with whom he performed and recorded over 30 CD recordings (for BMG, deutsche harmonia mundi, Harmonia Mundi France, Wergo & Arcana). He has also premiered a number of works for voice and chamber ensemble premieres of contemporary works by Saariaho (Paris), Fritsch (Bonn), Staub (G├Âteborg & Saarbr├╝cken) and Thomson (Hobart).  He is the Head of Voice at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.

Instrumentalist and singer John Weretka has appeared as an ensemblist or soloist in festivals including the Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival, the Melbourne International Festival, the Four Winds Festival, the Castlemaine State Festival, and the Melbourne Festival of Organ and Harpsichord/Autumn Music Festival. John is the Master of the Choir of Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne and a founding member of vocal ensemble, e21.

Ruth Wilkinson is very active as a recorder, viol and violone player and over her varied career has toured extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe. Ruth has been a member of two pioneering early music ensembles in Australia: the baroque trio Capella Corelli and the medieval ensemble La Romanesca both of which were at the forefront of the emerging popularity of early music in Australia. Both these ensembles toured nationwide for Musica Viva bringing to eager audiences a fresh approach to early music performance.  She has taught early music for many years at the University of Melbourne.

Kip Phillips is a countertenor and current student in the Bachelor of Music program.

You can explore Epic and Divine: Dante's World in the Noel Shaw Gallery in the Baillieu Library, and 700 Years of Dante Alighieri: Representation, Reception, and Legacy on the Ground Floor of the Arts West Building. This second exhibition has been coordinated by Professor Andrea Rizzi and Ms Elisabetta Ferrari, from the Italian program in the Faculty of Arts.

This free event is presented by Archives and Special Collections, Student and Scholarly Services in collaboration with the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

The event has been supported by the Italian program in the Faculty of Arts.