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Good Friday

29 March, 2013


Today – Good Friday – seems a good time to talk about ‘Passion and Resurrection’, one of the two programmes we’ll be taking across the Atlantic next week.

Holy Week is the climax of the liturgical calendar, and for the singers of Stile Antico it is invariably one of the busiest of the year.  The churches and cathedrals in which many of us sing hold major services for Palm Sunday, the washing-of-feet on Maundy Thursday, the dramatic extinguishing of lights at Tenebrae, the recitation of the Passion on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil on Saturday, and the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday itself.

Our ‘Passion and Resurrection’ programme grew out of our experience of these liturgies, and the wonderful music which which Renaissance composers furnished them.  In the first half, which focuses on events up to and including Good Friday, we encounter the crowds acclaiming Christ on Palm Sunday in Gibbon’s exuberant Hosanna to the Son of David, and recall the Last Supper in Tallis’ sublime setting of words by Thomas Aquinas, O Sacrum Convivium (O Sacred Banquet), before following Jesus and his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane in Lassus’ visceral, highly rhetorical In monte Oliveti.  Two Spanish masterpieces – Victoria’s O vos omnes and Morales’ O crux, Ave spes unica invite listeners to reflect on the figure of Christ on the Cross.  Flanking all of these pieces are two settings of the same Tudor text, ‘Woefully Arrayed’ – a gory, sometimes shocking poem expressing Christ’s love for mankind through the extent of his suffering on Good Friday.  The first is a haunting, sinewy work by William Cornysh; the second, by John McCabe, was written in 2009 especially for Stile Antico.  It is scored for twelve solo voices and explores a breathtaking range of textures and colours.

More on the second part of the programme in due course!  We’ll be performing ‘Passion and Resurrection’ at Yale, in Westport, CT, Minneapolis, Vancouver, Victoria, BC, and in New York City.  You can hear audio excerpts at, and watch a video introduction at  Please get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or by replying to this post if you have questions about the repertoire (or anything else!) – we be glad to answer them.