The Renaissance Choir was founded in 1976 by Raymond Calcraft, who wrote and lectured on various aspects of Spanish literature and music. Following his interests, in 1983 the choir sang pieces at Salamanca University written by Spanish Renaissance composers.
The choir’s performances of works by the Renaissance composer Francisco Guerrero (b. ca 1520 in Seville) and others attracted a good deal of interest in the local press. As a result Salamanca University commissioned the choir to make a recording of a selection of the work of Sebastián de Vivanco (c 1551-1622), who had lived in Salamanca but had been largely forgotten by his fellow countrymen. As hardly any of Vivanco’s music was available in print at that time, it was necessary to choose suitable music from three large manuscript volumes in the Salamanca library, and after study of several works, photocopies of these were eventually taken of the Mass “In Festo Beatae Mariae Virginis” and five contrasting motets. The recording was made in June 1985 at St Andrew’s Church, West Dean, Chichester.
The following year the choir performed pieces by Rodrigo at the South Bank in a major Festival attended by that famous Spanish composer.
The choir hopes to wow audiences in Spain again this May when it will be singing in La Coruña with the Ludus Tonalis choir and travelling along the Camino de Santiago to perform in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela at the Pilgrims’ Mass. Music will include works by Victoria, Guerrero, Rodrigo, Byrd, Parons, Tallis, Pearsall, Weelkes, Wood, Stanford and Harris. The majority of the choir will be present on the tour and are looking forward to socialising, sightseeing and singing together.