The Original Sin: Castrati Singers in the European Sacred Music Tradition

The VisionLecturerWhat To Expect
The exquisitely trained high-pitched voices of castrated male singers have been a mainstay of Christian church music. First cultivated in the imperial chapels of Constantinople, they have enjoyed a continued presence in the West since their 13th-century debut in the papal estates, where they persisted well into the 20th-century. Steeped in theological symbolism, the tradition is upheld nowadays by male falsettists everywhere—Catholic and Protestant, in sacred spaces and the concert hall—unwittingly perpetuating the traditional prohibition against female participation in sacred repertoire. In our era of ever-improving equity and respect for women, our quest for “authenticity” in historically informed performance practices will only be enriched by a deeper and more nuanced understanding of this musical landscape.

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Elisabeth Kotzakidou Pace, Ph.D., lecturer

Music theorist and mezzo soprano Elisabeth Kotzakidou Pace specializes in Analysis for Performance and the History of Music Theory—especially as they relate to the Rhetorical Paradigm that permeated European musical thought during the late Renaissance and Baroque eras. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University, her MM in Vocal Performance from The Juilliard School, and trained in Cognitive Science (Linguistics and Philosophy) at Princeton, Paris-Sorbonne, and the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Pace was a US Department of Education Fellow in Germany, where she also studied with baritone Hermann Prey. A specialist in the music of J. S. Bach, she has taught at UCSD, Columbia, and Washington University, was the founder and artistic director of the Baroque Ensemble Musical Oratory, and served as Alto soloist in various churches in Manhattan and San Diego.

Dr. Pace will present a pre-recorded lecture with visual aids and musical examples. The lecture will run approximately 45 minutes.

During the livestream, feel free to submit questions through the Chat function on YouTube. Dr. Pace will answer questions live after the pre-recorded broadcast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.