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O p e n   W o r k s h o p s

Our open workshops allow anyone with some experience of singing and an interest in Renaissance repertoire the opportunity to explore this music in depth alongside members of the Renaissance singers, under the direction of leading experts in the field. A basic level of ability to read music is helpful as we cover quite a lot of music during the evening.

The (Un)Caged Byrd: A Composer and his Conscience
A talk by musicologist Dr Kerry McCarthy, live on Zoom

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. 


2023 has been Byrd’s year. A glorious stream of performances, conferences, broadcasts and articles about the composer has reaffirmed his status as one of the greatest musicians England has ever produced.

For this contribution to his 400th anniversary celebrations, Dr McCarthy will shine a light upon Byrd’s inner life: was he truly an ‘internal exile’, tortured by fidelity to his religious convictions? Or is this a modern projection, a romanticisation of a composer who enjoyed much creative freedom and achieved the highest professional recognition? 


While life as a prominent recusant brought peril, complication and compromise, Byrd was a pragmatist, a ‘political player’.


Dr McCarthy will look at the composer’s relationship with three important musically-inclined Catholic families — the Brownes, the Pagets and the Petres — each of which had quite different ways of practising their faith and dealing with the pressure to conform. In turn, something of Byrd’s inner life will be revealed. 


As we look beyond this 400th anniversary, Dr McCarthy will examine the extent to which Byrd’s contemporaries, and musicians in the generations immediately following, valued and understood his music, drawing upon it for inspiration. What did Byrd have to say to them? What does he continue to say to us?



£8 full price

Unable to watch live?

Buy a regular ticket and receive a link a few days later to watch the recording at your leisure. All those with a ticket will receive this link so they can watch the talk again.

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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