The Rose Ensemble – What’s in a Name?

Our first concert of the season features The Rose Ensemble, a choir of some twelve voices, based in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It will perform A Rose in Winter: The Miracle of New Life in the Dark of Night, a program of Medieval and Renaissance music for the Christmas Season.

Not surprisingly, given the group’s name and its program title, Jordan Sramek, the group’s founder and artistic director, has an interesting take on the image of the rose.  He chose it as the name for the group because he sought an organic image that was symbolic in both the sacred and secular worlds of the past and the present.  He considered various herbs or plants but settled on the image of the rose.  It is an important religious symbol, especially in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  And, it is equally significant in secular imagery of the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, appearing in the courtly love poems of the Troubadours, as a symbol of the Tudor family and, in the Baroque period, as an allegorical symbol of human love, beauty and sweetness.  He notes the paradoxical symbolism of the rose: “It is at once a symbol of heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life  –  the flower of Venus but also the blood of Adonis and Christ.”

The Rose in Winter concert is inspired by ancient Christmas legends that describe a midnight blooming of all manner of plants, trees, and flowers.  The ensemble explores this miracle of new life amid the cold of winter with choral works by Byrd and Mouton, English ballads, Spanish cantigas and, of course, the German carol, “Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen” (“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”).