BINGHAMTON, NY Notes from the 16th Century were leaping off the page yesterday as Binghamton University celebrated the acquisition of a rare musical manuscript.
A couple months ago, BU pooled funds from various endowments and departments to purchase the Gradual of La Crocetta for its Special Collections.
The medieval book, which dates back to sometime between 1511 and 1543, contains the sheet music for Gregorian chants that were popular at the time.
It was used by nuns at the La Crocetta convent in Florence, Italy to sing daily mass and vesper services.
Associate Professor of Musicology Paul Schleuse says the manuscript will be used in his teaching of medieval music.
“This is music that I know well because I teach it to my students and this is the period I work on in my own research. But, to hear it being sung from a book that is actually from that time is really exciting and it’s a rare thing to be able to do,” says Schleuse.
Female members of the Southern Tier Singers’ Collective performed a Mass for Christmas Day from the manuscript during the ceremony.
The book’s pages are made from vellum, which comes from sheep or goat’s skin and they include many hand-painted decorations.
Plus, the musical notes were written large so that a group of nuns could gather around the manuscript to sing their chants.
You can hear a longer clip of the Singers’ Collective performing here.