William Byrd Choir     director Gavin Turner
After   last   year’s   sold-out   and   very   successful   concert   at   St   Andrew’s   Gunton   Park   with   a   male   voice   sextet,   lutenist and   speaker,   this   year   the   William   Byrd   Choir   will   be   back   at the   magnificent   and   spacious   Salle   Church   with   a   full   mixed choir   of   sixteen   voices.      In   contrast   to   our   usual   Latin   texted Catholic   church   music,   this   programme   is   entirely   from   the English   cathedral   repertoire   from   what   was   a   golden   age   for Anglican   liturgical   music.   The   Byrd   Great   Service   is   one   of the   masterpieces   of   English   church   music,   Until   relatively recently   it   was   not   regularly   performed   by   either   cathedral   or professional   chamber   choirs.   It   is   written   in   a   grand   manner with   expansive   exuberance   but   also   has   passages   of   delicate expressiveness:      a   work   not   to   be   missed   by   either   its   fans   or those   who   have   never   heard   it   before.   Accompanying   this work   will   be   a   selection   of   well-known   anthems,   familiar enough    in    the    cathedral    repertoire,    but    not    so    often performed   by   specialist   professional   choirs   for   the   benefit also   of   those   who   are   not   church-goers.   These   are   anthems mainly    written    by    composers    associated    with    the    Chapel Royal.     The     Great     Service     itself     was     almost     certainly performed   mainly   by   the   Chapel   Royal   choir   which   probably alone   had   the   resources   for   large-scale   and   more   ambitious works.      The   Catholic   Byrd   was   only   briefly   associated   with Anglican   cathedral   music   as   a   young   man   at   Lincoln,   but   the other    three    composers    all    had    cathedral    posts    as    well    as Chapel   Royal   duties   (apart   from   Weelkes):   Gibbons   (Westminster   Abbey),   Weelkes   (Chichester   Cathedral),   and Tomkins    (Worcester    Cathedral),    where    these    anthems    were    no    doubt    variously    performed.        Three    of    these composers   died   in   the   1620s;   only   the   younger   Tomkins   lived   into   the   Puritan   Revolution   when   Cathedrals   were closed   to   religious   worship,   and   Tomkins   was   banished   from   his   cathedral.   In   1649   (the   year   of   Charles   I’s execution)   Tomkins   wrote   A   Sad   Pavan   for   these   Distracted   Times,   which   will   be   one   of   the   organ   pieces   by Gibbons and Tomkins that Richard Powell will play at this concert.
Next Concert: Salle Church on Saturday 22nd July at 6pm