Bach Collegium closes season with ‘Vespers’

The city’s premier early music performance ensemble, Bach Collegium San Diego, will conclude its 2009-10 season with the San Diego debut performance of Monteverdi’s “Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610" at 7 p.m. May 23 at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 743 Prospect, La Jolla.

For this local premiere, Bach Collegium has assembled an all-star cast of 15 singers (local and international), plus instrumentalists including The Whole Noyse from the Bay Area, a five-member group specializing in Renaissance wind instruments.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the remarkable work and early music ensembles around the world that are performing it in tribute. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) is regarded as one of the most important composers of the 16th and early 17th centuries, and his L’ Orfeo is often considered the first opera in history.

“Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610" (Vespers for the Blessed Virgin 1610) is also called Vespers of 1610. “Vespers” (evening prayers) is a term taken from the Hours of the Divine Office, a set of daily prayers of the Catholic Church that have remained unchanged for the last 1,500 years.

In scale, Monteverdi’s Vespers is arguably the most ambitious work of sacred music before Bach’s B minor Mass.

Tickets are $35-$50, or $15 for students, at