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A tasting menu

30 March, 2013


‘Passion and Resurrection’, our first tour programme, is tightly programmed around a specific theme.  Our second, ‘Treasures of the Renaissance’, could hardly be more different.  Its theme, if it has one, is variety: we have tried to create the most colourful, energetic and diverse programme we could – one which will appeal equally to the connoisseur and to someone who has never heard Renaissance polyphony before.  It is, if you like, a tasting menu for what this wonderful repertoire has to offer.

The fourteen works which make up ‘Treasures’ were written by fourteen different composers, from England, Flanders, Italy, Germany and Spain.  They represent a Who’s Who of Renaissance music: Tallis, Byrd and Sheppard, Victoria, Palestrina and Lassus are all included, but there are also composers who are less familiar, but no less accomplished, among them Clemens non Papa, Vivanco, and Ceballos.  It’s a programme that taxes our versatility – you’ll hear us singing in four, five, six, seven, eight and twelve parts – but where each piece offers something new and different to the last.

We begin with a superb Magnificat by Gombert, and continue the Flemish theme with motets by Clemens (the incomparable Ego flos campi) and Lassus on texts from the Song of Songs.  Then we head to Catholic England, in the shape of Byrd’s virtuosic Vigilate and Tallis’ mellifluous In pace.  John McCabe’s Woefully Arrayed, commissioned for Stile Antico, completes the first half. During the interval the Reformation takes place, and we return to find Tomkins, Sheppard and Gibbons writing English-texted music for the new Protestant church.  Palestrina, Victoria, Vivanco and Ceballos beckon us to the south of Europe, before we finish in Germany, and on the cusp of the Baroque, with the exuberant triple-choir Tota pulchra es by Hieronymus Praetorius.

It’s a hugely enjoyable programme for us to sing; we hope it will be as much fun to listen to!  We’ll be performing ‘Treasures’ in our tour-opening concert in Cambridge, MA, in Davidson NC, at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and in Kansas City, MO.  Let us know what you think of it!