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A Choral Pilgrimage

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    THE OBSERVER: Anthony Holden When the Queen sent a flunkey to tell Christopher Tye that he was playing out of tune, he returned a message saying no, it was her
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17, 2008
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      THE OBSERVER:
      Anthony Holden

      When the Queen sent a flunkey to tell Christopher Tye that he was
      playing out of tune, he returned a message saying no, it was her ears.
      Ah, those were the days - Tudor England, when the church was in
      turmoil and its music set in Latin.

      On their eighth annual choral pilgrimage, Harry Christophers and the
      Sixteen are touring the country for the next three months with a rare
      collection of Tudor treasures, taking them back to the cathedrals and
      churches for which they were written. In the works of Tye, his
      son-in-law Robert White and their contemporary Robert Parsons, one of
      Britain's finest chamber choirs has unearthed a little-known hoard of
      Reformation gems that richly deserve this wider airing. Spanning the
      reigns of Henry VIII via Edward VI and Mary to Elizabeth I, these
      three composers all deserve to be up there in the English choral
      pantheon with the likes of Tallis and Byrd.

      This year's pilgrimage began in St John's College, Cambridge, founded
      in 1511, but blessed in the mid-19th century with a George Gilbert
      Scott chapel whose acoustic perfectly suits the nuanced talents of the
      Sixteen. In fact 18 for this excursion - six sopranos, four altos,
      four tenors and four basses - they filled the vaulted ceiling with
      their celestial euphony, as if to emphasise that the music mirrors the
      ornate ecclesiastical architecture. In the programme, indeed, we have
      the Archbishop of Canterbury's word for it that early 16th-century
      church music amounts to 'a kind of translation in sound of the
      crystalline elaborations of early Tudor fan vaulting'.

      The discovery of the evening is White's Lamentations, a series of
      melancholy texts from Jeremiah blending exquisite contrapuntal
      passages with bold harmonic shifts, climaxing in the most passionate
      of exhortations. Parson's Ave Maria and Tye's Peccavimus cum patribus
      nostris are more conventionally devotional works, as is Parson's O
      bone Jesu, but all combine that rare mix of emotionalism and
      self-discipline which is the paradoxical hallmark of this music as
      much as these stellar performers. Catch them if you can in your own
      corner of the kingdom or share the experience in their recording,
      Treasures of Tudor England, on Coro.

      http://www.the-sixteen.org.uk/

      ---------------------------------
      Reposted A Cappella News
      www.acappellanews.com
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