P a s t C o n c e r t s
How shall we sing the Lord's song?
Saturday 11 February 2023, 7.30pm
St. Pancras Church, London, NW1 2BA
Guest Director: Gareth Wilson
Marc’Antonio Ingegneri (1535/6-1592) enjoys but brief mention in history books as a composer of madrigals, contemporary of Palestrina, and, perhaps most notably, teacher of Claudio Monteverdi, who sang as a chorister at Cremona cathedral where Ingegneri was maestro di capella. Despite being at the forefront of the liturgical reforms proposed by the Council of Trent, his sacred music has fallen into neglect.
Using fresh new editions of his music, this concert will offer a programme demonstrating the emotional and imaginative breadth of a compositional master whose contribution to the history of music demands better recognition.
O beata infantia!
Christmas in the footsteps of Josquin
Géry de Ghersem, Missa Ave Virgo Sanctissima
Loyset Pieton, O beata infantia
Francisco Guerrero, Ave Virgo Sanctissima
and motets and villancicos by Guerrero
Saturday 10 December 2022, 7.30pm
St. George's Bloomsbury, WC1A 2SA
Directed by David Allinson
The Renaissance Singers presents a programme of meditative, awestruck and joyful music for the festive season, focusing on the infant Jesus and his mother. This recital showcases two unjustly-neglected masters of the expressive, flowing style of imitative polyphony that was perfected by generations of Franco-Flemish musicians during the 16th century, following the trail blazed by Josquin, and which was sought after in every European court and cathedral.
The music of Loyset Piéton (fl.c.1530-45) survives mostly in Italian sources but was copied and performed across Western Europe. His Christmas antiphon, O beata infantia, is a masterclass in emotive, lyrical writing. Géry de Ghersem (c.1573-1630) is even more obscure, yet this Tournai-born musician held exalted positions at the courts of Madrid and Brussels. Tragically, all but one of his works were destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. What survives is a corker of a Mass, based on the most celebrated Marian motet by Francisco Guerrero, Ave Virgo Sanctissima.
While many Flemish composers used Guerrero’s masterpiece as the inspiration for new music; Ghersem takes his tribute to the next level, expanding the five part texture to seven voices and adding complexity, so that the Mass becomes a scintillating fantasia on its source material.
Guerrero (1528-99) was called by contemporaries ‘el cantor de Maria’; his music for Mary has a special fervency and dignity. Along with his masterpiece motet, Ave Virgo Sanctissima, this evening of musical discoveries and revelations will be topped off with other works by the Spanish master, both motets for the Virgin and lighter villancicos in Spanish. Feliz navidad!
Echos and Shadows
The Genius of Robert Parsons
Saturday 22 October 2022, 7.30pm
St Giles in the Fields
60 St Giles High Street
London WC2H 8LG
Directed by David Allinson
The sunny setting of Ave Maria by Robert Parsons is rightly one of the best-loved motets in the Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems. Yet most of his works languish in obscurity.
In his 450th anniversary year the Renaissance Singers shine a light on Parsons, one of the great musical talents of Tudor England, whose death by drowning at the age of 36 evoked this tribute from music copyist Robert Dow: ’Parsons, you who were so great in the springtime of life, How great you would have been in the autumn, had not death intervened.‘
From the searing drama of his Responds for the Dead to the sweet warmth of his canticles for the new Anglican evensong, Parsons’ music is revealed as endlessly inspired and expressive.
Our programme sets Parsons in context with rich music for evening services by contemporaries Tallis, White, Sheppard, Mundy and Byrd on themes of sleep, light and salvation.