This concert completes a cycle of four concerts in Norfolk churches (previously at Salle and Gunton) in which we have featured William Byrd’s three Masses and the Magnificent and Nunc Dimittis of his Great Service. The Mass for Four voices which we are bringing to the Cathedral at our concert on Saturday 28th July 2018 is the most forthright and dramatic of the Mass settings, but also the most unsettled in its mood. At times it boldly and confidently proclaims its Catholic faith; at other moments, particularly in the famous Agnus Dei, it expresses a powerful spiritual angst - or is it more the deep sorrow and perhaps even anger at the sufferings of Catholics in Elizabethan England? Byrd makes it quite clear in a number of his Latin motets that trying to ‘sing the Lord’s song in an alien [Protestant] land’ was painful for him. This mood is vividly expressed in two substantial motets in our July concert. The great penitential double motet Ne irascaris Domine/Civitas sancti tui is one of a several in his Cantiones Sacrae which draw an analogy between the destruction of the Catholic Church in England and the fall of Jerusalem. They also compare the sufferings of Elizabethan Catholics to those of the Jews in exile in Babylon. Exurge Domine (Arise O Lord why sleepest thou?) is a more vigorous appeal to God to have pity on the sufferings of the faithful and to come to their aid.In the second part of the concert we explore the music of another fervent Catholic composer in the much more secure Catholic environments of Italy and Spain. Tomás Luis de Victoria worked in Rome for several years, but his music often has less of the suave assurance of Counter-Reformation Rome (a style which Victoria had mastered quite as well as Palestrina himself), and more of a sombre and intense Spanish spiritually. We include three beautiful and contrasted four-part motets. One of these Senex puerum portabat shows how a great composer can write grand and powerful music for a simple four-part choir. There will be instrumental music by Byrd and Victoria in each half of the concert, performed by The City Musick. The programme will be rounded-off with two works for double choir with cornett, sackbut, shawm, dulcian and organ, to give the music a distinctive Spanish flavour, since wind bands were common in the large musical establishments of Spanish Cathedrals in the Golden Age. Victoria’s big Magnificat Primi Toni for two choirs and instruments will provide an impressive finale to the concert. With 16 professional singers and an instrumental group in the cathedral (an ideal setting for the grandeur of the music), this will be quite an expensive to concert to promote, so we hope as many as possible of our regular supporters will be able to come along - and bring friends with them too!The concert is at 6pm, so that the musicians can get back to London after the concert. It will be over before 8pm and will allow the audience to go for a nice meal in Norwich afterwards. There will be an interval bar with wine and soft drinks in the south transept. CDs by both The City Musick and the William Byrd Choir will be on sale.
Next Concert: Norwich Cathedral on Saturday 28th July at 6pm