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S P E C I A L     E V E N T
O N L I N E     T A L K 

Commemorating the

‘Fatal Vespers’ of 1623,

the forgotten catastrophe 

at Blackfriars 

A meditation led by Fr Tom Thomas IC

with speaker Eamon Duffy, Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity

at Magdalene College, Cambridge

and music by The Renaissance Singers

directed by David Allinson

Monday 30 October 2023, 7pm
St Etheldreda’s Church 
14 Ely Place, London

Music by William Byrd (d.1623), to include:

Mass for Four Voices (extracts)

Ne irascaris—Civitas Sancti tui

Emendemus in melius

Justorum animae 

Nunc dimittis from the Gradualia


On the afternoon of Sunday 26 October 1623 around 300 people squeezed themselves into the upper room at the French ambassador’s residence in the London district of Blackfriars. From committed Catholics to the curious and undecided, they had come to hear a famous Jesuit speak. Midway through Robert Drury’s sermon the floor of the makeshift chapel gave way, as did the floor of the chamber beneath. The preacher, another priest and more than 90 members of the congregation fell to their deaths; many more were injured by falling masonry.

F E A T U R E D   R E V I E W S

Outstanding performance from an incredibly talented ensemble and passionate conductor. Polyphony which truly enriches the soul. Thank you for a memorable and most enjoyable evening!


Stefan Hoppe

Helped by a wonderful acoustic, we knew from the very first perfectly balanced chord that we were in for a treat. The blend and balance in the sound was enviable with no individual voices sticking out. And the repertoire was something of a revelation. Congratulations one and all.


Neil Price

Thank you so much for arranging such an enjoyable event last Monday. It was simply the best couple of hours' practical music making in which I have ever participated.

​Richard Turbet

The (Un)Caged Byrd: A Composer and his Conscience

Live on Zoom, hosted by Dr Kerry McCarthy


Wednesday 11th October 2023

7pm for about 90 minutes

Live on Zoom, hosted by the Renaissance Singers and introduced by David Allinson

As the Renaissance Singers prepare to perform the new play Master Byrd at Ingatestone Hall, we are delighted to present a live talk by one of the foremost experts on the composer’s life and music, Dr Kerry McCarthy. 


Master Byrd

a new play by Brean Hammond with live choral interpolations

Saturday 21 October 2023
performances at 4pm and 7pm
Ingatestone Hall
Hall Lane, Ingatestone
Essex CM4 9NR
Director: David Allinson


William Byrd died in Essex on 4 July 1623. Four hundred years later, as the musical world celebrates his genius, the Renaissance Singers raise their voices in Master Byrd, a new short play by Brean Hammond.


We are thrilled to be performing in the very place where the play is set, Ingatestone Hall, still owned by the family who sheltered and supported Byrd: the Petres. We hope you will join us, for a unique experience in a space the composer would have known well.

J O I N    O U R    M A I L I N G   L I S T
J O I N    U S

We are currently recruiting sopranos and altos.


If you're an excellent sight-reader and are confident singing in smaller groups, unaccompanied, we'd love you to hear from you.

Click the button below and sign up if you would like to receive emails from the Renaissance Singers about our forthcoming events, offers and activities.

F E A T U R E D   R E C O R D I N G

In common with many musical groups, we were unable to perform during the lockdown owing to restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  During this time we found alternative ways of bringing Renaissance music to you, which we hope to continue now that we are back to live performance.


We are incredibly grateful to our generous supporters for their kind donations over recent months, which have helped to sustain the choir. Any donations you feel able to give us will enable us to continue to bring you online content and to present concerts now that restrictions allow.

If you’re able to be with us at Ingatestone Hall on 21 October, this talk will be an ideal primer. But if you are unable to see our performances of Master Byrd, this should be a fascinating freestanding talk about Byrd’s wonderful music and extraordinary life. 

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