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From the Conductor's Stand - Episode 4

Alonso Lobo's Versa est in Luctum

Many of you will know and love Lobo's Versa est in luctum. This 'music about music' - a motet whose text describes harps, organs and voices sounding in lamentation - is one of the greatest achievements of the Spanish 'Golden Age'. A work of astonishing beauty, drama and emotional power, to sing it is to connect with the eternal human experience of grief and consolation - to know that others have weathered the storm before you. 

Fewer jokes this time, but it's still worth a glass of something special to sip while you listen - there is so much to fascinate: was this piece really written for Philip II's funeral in 1598? Or was it sung in Toledo, as the city commemorated the passing of the monarch with the kind of vast civic and religious ceremonies that were common to every city in Habsburg lands? And why is Alonsa Lobo so underrated, when Victoria regarded him as an equal - and his music is so good?

This is the fourth in our series, 'From the Conductor's Stand'. We know our audience includes many knowledgeable people who know and love this repertoire, so this is a chance to look a little deeper at individual works, in the company of a friendly guide.

Another single take from David, so please forgive any technical glitches! However, the idea is that we are about to begin our rehearsal, and this is a quick primer, a way in to a masterpiece.

The edition of Versa est in luctum is here:
(note that we ignore the suggested F sharp in Sop. 2, b.4)

Finally, for the very keen! On music and ceremonial for Philip II, see Owen Rees, ‘“The City full of grief”: Music for the Exequies of King Philip II’, in Melania Bucciarelli, Berta Joncus (eds.), Music as Social and Cultural Practice: Essays in Honour of Reinhard Strohm (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007)

The live performance video from our March 2017 concert (audio with scrolling score) is here:

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.

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