This programme is the second in a series of themed concerts where the choir will perform works of lesser-known composers from major musical nations of the Renaissance period (The Low Countries, Spain, Italy and England). A year ago, the “Dutch Renaissance Masters” featured the music of Lassus. This concert focusses on the works of the Spanish Renaissance composers Victoria and Guerrero.
The Renaissance Choir has a deep affinity for music from 17th and 20th century Spain, which has developed from its founder conductor’s links with the country and its famous composer, Joaquin Rodrigo. Around 40 years ago, the choir went to the University of Salamanca in Spain to record an LP of Renaissance motets written by Spanish composers such as Guerrero and Vivanco. These composers’ works were virtually unknown in their homeland and the choir did much to bring this important music back into the public arena.
Over the years, the choir has continued to champion Spanish Renaissance music, including giving the world première of Cantico de Francisco by Rodrigo.
In addition, the choir’s more recent history includes a performance in the cathedral in Santiago da Compostela, where a congregation of over a thousand pilgrims from all over the world appreciated our singing. Whilst in the cathedral, we were able to see the Codex Calixtinus, a glorious mediaeval manuscript which is a beautifully decorated travel guide. It tells the 11th century traveller to avoid certain pilgrim routes because of robbers and advises others to look out for horse thieves. The book is also a treasury of music sung by the pilgrims of the period. One such piece has been arranged by the choir’s MD, Peter Gambie, and is included in the programme.
Central to the programme is the music of Tomas Luis da Victoria (1548 – 1611), a Spaniard who rivals Palestrina as the cream of composers from the 17th century. Italians consider Victoria to be one of their own (they even call him Vittoria) because he spent so much time living in Italy, where he mastered the art of writing polychoral music.
As the word implies, music was written for two or three choirs, which were placed in different parts of the enormous cathedrals with which Italy and Spain are blessed. One piece in our programme splits us into three choirs, so true stereo is achieved. Tallis’s great Spem in Alium, written for 40 voices, is similar to some of the pieces in this programme.
In order to balance the serene, beautiful and restful sacred music from the period, we’re also performing secular pieces, which dance across the programme, bringing a sense of the real Spain, full of earthy vitality.
Music played by award-winning guitarist Zoe Barnett will provide further contrast to the programme. Zoe is currently studying at the Royal College of Music and has a very bright future in the profession.
During the concert we hope, too, to draw comparisons between the painters and composers of the time, simply because some of the world’s finest art and music came from the late Renaissance period.
The programme includes the following choral works:
– Missa Salve
– Ave Maria
– Ave Maris Stella
– Alma Redemptoris Mater
– Regina Caeli Laetare
– Pastores Loquebantur
– Regina Caeli Laetare
– Duo Seraphim Clamabant
Vivanco – Canite Tuba in Sion
Lobo – Versa Est in Luctum
Flecha – E la don don Verges Maria
Alonso – La Tricotea
Vasquez – Soledad Tengo de Ti
Anon – Riu Riu Chiu
Works for guitar:
J S Bach – Prelude from “Prelude, Fugue and Allegro”
Torroba – Castles of Spain
– 1. Alcazar de Segovia. 2. Torija
Villa-Lobos – Prelude No 2
Rodrigo – Canarios Para un Gentilhombre