P a s t   C o n c e r t s

Season 2017-18

Our 2017-18 season included some exciting guest conductors and a whole host of wonderful music: 

Palestrina and the Papal Chapel: a century of music from Rome

Saturday 27th October 2018, 7.30pm

Venue: St. Gabriel's  Church, Warwick Square, Pimlico, London, SW1V 2AD

Director: Stephen Rice

Tickets available on the door: £14  (concessions: £12)

We return to Rome for our autumn concert as we explore the music of the composers of the Papal Chapel from the 16th century. We are delighted to welcome Stephen Rice, Director of the Brabant ensemble as our guest conductor for this concert as we perform music by Palestrina and his contemporaries. The Papal Chapel has inspired composers from all ages and the 16th century was no exception with both singers and composers traveling from Northern Europe as well as other parts of Italy and Spain for the chance to perform there. Palestrina is perhaps the composer who had the most enduring influence on the development of music from this time and his work is often seen as the high-point of Italian Renaissance polyphony. To complement Palestrina, we will also present music from his contemporaries to give a feel for the musical experience of the time.


Saturday 15th December 2018, 7.30pm

Venue: St. George’s, Bloomsbury, London 

Director: Dr David Allinson

Tickets: £14/ £12 (conc.) - AVAILABLE ON THE DOOR

Cristóbal de Morales based his lush Missa Quaeramus cum pastoribus on an immensely popular popular motet by Mouton. In reworking the original material he transformed its breezy, taut four-voice textures into larger canvasses of lush, five-part polyphony, dividing the basses throughout to create rich sonorities that culminate in a seven-fold division of forces for the Agnus Dei.


To contrast with the Mass, we sing reduced-texture seasonal motets by Morales, along with works by his greatest Spanish successor, Victoria, and by Victoria’s successor at the Collegio Germanico in Rome, Annibale Stabile. An uplifting evening of festive polyphony that will be perfectly complemented by the mince pies and mulled wine available at the interval!

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Above the stars: the genius of the English Verse Anthem

Music by Tomkins, Gibbons, Amner and East

The Renaissance Singers with the Chelys Consort of Viols

Saturday 14th July 2018, 7.30pm

Venue: St. Gabriel's, Pimlico, Warwick Square, Pimlico, London, SW1V 2AD

Director: Dr. David Allinson

Tickets: £18 (Concessions: £15) - available on the door

Join us for a summer's evening of emotive, evocative and joyful sacred music by the astonishingly talented generation of English composers that came to maturity in the decades around 1600. During this period composers of Anglican church music came to write more ‘verse’ music — for viol consort, solo voices and choir — than full anthems. The burgeoning idiom permitted more vivid text setting, new dramatic possibilities and an expanded range of scoring colours. 


Among established masterpieces by Gibbons and Tomkins we are excited to include unknown anthems by Michael East, and to be giving a rare performance of John Milsom’s reconstruction of Tomkin’s O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance — a raw cry of protest at events unfolding in Worcester during the mid-17th century. The choral items will be interspersed with Fantasias and In Nomines by Byrd, Gibbons and East, played by the world-class Chelys Consort.

Thomas Ashwell: Missa Ave Maria and a Tudor garland for Mary

Saturday 26th May 2018, 7.30pm

Venue: St. Gabriel's, Pimlico, Warwick Square, Pimlico, London, SW1V 2AD

Director: Dr. David Allinson

A once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a live performance of the outstandingly fine Missa Ave Maria, written by the man who almost certainly taught John Taverner when he was a chorister at Tattershall College. Only two works by Ashwell survive complete, but they are thrilling: this rich, florid mass setting for six voices comes close to matching the monumental splendour of Taverner's celebrated Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas.

Hedged around with motets in honour of the Virgin Mary by contemporaries and successors including Taverner, Tallis and Sheppard, this programme will be a Tudor treat for May, the traditional month of Mary.

I heard a voice from heaven: Portuguese penitential music

Duarte Lobo: Missa pro defunctis a8 (selected movements)

Joāo Lourenço Rebelo: Lamentations of Jeremiah

with motets by Manuel Cardoso, Pedro de Cristo and Filipe de Magalhāes

Saturday 10th March 2018, 7.30pm

Venue: St. George's Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2SA

Director: Dr. David Allinson

We provided an evening of rich Lenten music from early 17th-century Portugal, all in the ideal acoustics of St George’s, Bloomsbury. The serene sonorities of Duarte Lobo’s consoling Requiem setting will be set in relief by the intensity and drama of motets by Magalhāes, Cardoso and de Cristo. The main event, however, is a rare chance to hear Rebelo’s magisterial setting of the Lamentations - a tour de force of expressive, chromatic double-choir writing.

O Oriens! An Advent Cycle

Saturday 16th December 2017, 7.30pm

St George's, Bloomsbury,

Bloomsbury Way,

London WC1A 2SA

Director: Dr. David Allinson

Amid the onslaught of predictable and traditional seasonal fare, the Renaissance Singers presented a programme of sumptuous polyphony in the spirit of Advent, the liturgical season of expectation and preparation. 


We performed the cycle of ‘O’ antiphon settings published by Pierre Attaingnant in the mid-1530s. Written by a group of composers working at institutions including Notre Dame and Ste Chapelle, Paris, the polyphony is in the finest traditions established by Josquin — expressive, sinuous and studded with false relations. 


Each antiphon begins with the exclamation ‘O’. They were to be sung at Vespers before and after the Magnificat on the days preceding Christmas Eve. The music is newly-edited for this concert, and to our knowledge this was the first modern performance of all nine motets in the cycle; only a few have previously been recorded. 


The music, by composers including Pierre Certon, Antoine Mornable and Pierre de Manchicourt, deserves to be better known. It has great emotional power, especially in the untexted melismatic sections that are reminiscent of settings of the Lamentations. The programme was capped with Jean Mouton's Nesciens mater and Gombert's setting of the Magnificat on the 3rd/8th tone.

Martin Luther - Ein neues Lied

Saturday 28th October 2017, 7.30pm

St George's, Bloomsbury,

Bloomsbury Way,

London WC1A 2SA

Directed by Gawain Glenton

Martin Luther (1483-1546) believed music should be central to faith, and that faith should be central to everyday life. The result was the promotion of a society in which music permeated all aspects of life. From humdrum daily rituals, to major landmarks and civic events: all were emphasised through music that was often communal.


This concert brought together household hymns, love songs (some serious, some comic), dancing and drinking songs to give a flavour of the range of music in Luther’s time. Our exploration of Luther also extended to the influence he had on later German composers, showing his influence on the work of Pachelbel, Christoph Bernhard, Schütz and in particular on J.S. Bach's monumental 8-part Der Geist Hilft.