Obsidian Records is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens.

Far from being silent, Renaissance convents were among the most active musical institutions in Europe. In this ground-breaking CD, Musica Secreta delves into the mysterious world of early sixteenth-century convent music.

The discovery of anonymous motets in a book entitled Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata (1543) has pushed back the date of the earliest known polyphonic music for convents by 50 years. The book also raises tantalising  questions about the motets' authorship.

New research suggests that some of these motets were composed by the abbess of the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara, Suor Eleanora d'Este, a woman of prodigious musical skill with a unique lineage. She was the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia, a woman cast by popular history as a notorious femme fatale; often portrayed as beautiful and power-hungry, Lucrezia was married to a succession of wealthy men. The convent offered a very different way of life for her only daughter, however, and these unique motets offer a vision of the 16th century convent as a place for religious celebration, contemplation and exceptional music-making.

These motets were recorded for the first time in the  summer of 2016 for Obsidian records, performed by Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens and directed by Laurie Stras and Deborah Roberts.



Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter in the Press
We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter: Princess, Nun and Musician. The disc reached number 2 in the UK specialist classical charts, and it’s been featured on iTunes and Apple Music as “Music You Need to Hear”. Find some of our favourite features and reviews below.

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Highly recommended.
The music is of such quality and the singing of such beauty and refinement that we’re not likely to care so much who wrote it:  the mystery perhaps makes it even more compelling–truly ethereal.  

Listen to the Lost Works of Leonora d’Este, Daughter of the Notorious Lucrezia Borgia
The story of Leonora d’Este, featuring a video from the recording filmed in the beautiful contemporary chapel of Ripon College Cuddesdon

Sisters Doing It For Themselves: Radical Motets from a 16th-Century Nunnery
Director of Musica Secreta Laurie Stras explains the research that led her to believe these anonymous motets were composed by a nun and, specifically, by the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia.

Composer of the Week: Leonora d’Este and Raffaella Aleotti
To coincide with International Women’s Day 2017, BBC Radio 3 featured the women of Renaissance Ferrara as their “composer of the week” in collaboration with Laurie Stras, with a special episode dedicated to Leonora d’Este.

Sister Act
“The participating ensemble [...] sounds just as a convent choir would have done, using 16th-century techniques, including transposition and instrumental accompaniment.”

This recording took my breath away with its sheer depth of music making combined with such an exciting historical premise.”

Sarah Dunant (author of novels about Renaissance Italy)
“Lucrezia Borgia's daughter composed fabulous music. [...] Divine is the word.”

'There are so many fascinating aspects to this recording.....'

Read an exclusive interview with Musica Secreta's Laurie Stras here