Ancient & Modern

Ancient and Modern


Malmesbury Abbey – 15 November 2014, 7.30pm

Cirencester Parish Church – 22 November 2014, 7.30pm

Cantores Chamber Choir with David Whitehead (organ).

Cantores’ Autumn programme this year focuses on two periods of sacred choral composition which are generally regarded as high peaks of creative achievement, the Renaissance and our own time.

Despite a gap of four hundred years there are many common characteristics to the music. It is not just the demands of the liturgy, which have changed only little, or the common use of the Latin language, but all the composers presented here respond in a similar way to the possibilities of choral sound despite the use of different harmonic languages and, in our own time, the sound of the modern organ.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah set by Thomas Tallis and his great motet Loquebantur Variis Linguis contrast with William Byrd’s gentle Lullaby for the Christ child. These two composers mark the peak of the English Renaissance.

From the continent we have music from the Spaniard working in Rome Tomas Luis de Victoria, his intense Ave Maria and the famous setting of Psalm 51, the Miserere, by Gregorio Allegri.

Sung during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel since the middle of the seventeenth century, this unique work has grown a mystique over the centuries, particularly resulting from the style of ornamentation traditionally used by the Roman singers. Most striking, of course, is the famed repeated soprano top C that is worth the ticket price on its own!

Music of our own time comes from Scotland with two Strathclyde Motets by James MacMillan; the breathtaking ‘Data est mihi’ and the profound, languid ‘Dominus dabit benignitatem’. Gabriel Jackson’s Missa Sanctae Margaretae was first performed in 2010 and Jonathan Dove’s Seek him that maketh the seven stars in 1998. These two composers represent the best of a flourishing field of sacred choral music in England today.

Ola Gjeilo is a Norwegian composer living and working in the USA, whose attractive choral writing has engaged choirs and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Northern Lights is a setting of part of the Song of Solomon and was inspired by the aurora borealis.

Tickets are available online, from Cirencester Tourist Information Office or from Lorna on 01242 603988.

Dates for your diaries…..

In November (15/11 in Malmesbury Abbey and 22/11 in Cirencester Parish Church) we will be joined by David Whitehead on the organ for a concert called “Ancient & Modern”. This will include sacred music from the great Renaissance masters from home and abroad and from living composers from the UK and Norway. The program will include:

Lassus – Ave Maria a8

Tallis – Lamentations

Tallis – Loquebantur

Byrd – Lullaby

Allegri – Miserere

Byrd – Laetentur coeli

Gabriel Jackson – Missa Sanctae Margaretae

Ola Gjeilo – Northern Lights

Dove – Seek him that maketh the seven stars

Macmillan – Data est mihi

Macmillan – Dominus dabit


And in 2015…..

14 March 2015 – Cirencester Parish Church, Cirencester

21 March 2015 – Holy Apostles Church, Cheltenham

20 June 2015 – Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Mill End, Northleach

27 June 2015 – The Holy Innocents Church, Highnam

The Seven Ages of Man


Holy Innocents Church, Highnam – Saturday 7 June 2014, 7.30pm

Cirencester Parish Church – Saturday 14 June 2014, 7.30pm

Rutter – Five Childhood Lyrics
Chilcott – Jazz Mass
Ives – Three English Folk Songs
Schubert – Three Part Songs
Holloway – Six Poems of John Drinkwater
Interspersed with entertaining readings

Cantores’ Summer programme this year contains words and music on the subject of youth and age.

John Rutter’s ‘Five Childhood Lyrics’ set traditional nursery poems including ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’ and ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’ to most accessible and immediately attractive music. The choir is joined at the piano by David Whitehead for music of youthful vigour in Bob Chilcott’s ‘Jazz Mass’. The composer manages to bring the sounds of the smoke filled jazz club into the church environment without compromising either. Grayston Ives’ ‘Three English Folk Songs’ tell of youth and love and loss. As a one-time member of the King’s Singers, Ives knows well how to project the vigour and energy of his subject.

The part songs with piano of Schubert at too rarely performed and we offer three: ‘The Gondolier’, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ and a late masterpiece ‘Gebet’ (Prayer) which sets a text of old age and the contemplation of the human condition.

The poetry of John Drinkwater that John Holloway set in celebration of Cantores’ first twenty years in 2011 encompasses youth and old age. Therein is to be seen ‘Cotswold Love’ which can be found in April “ if you’re eighteen or rising sixty-five”, the coming of the ‘Daffodils’ and the tap room songs of ‘Mamble’ to the consideration of ‘Immortality’ and the question of whether we shall take our love beyond the grave.

Tickets are available online, from Cirencester Tourist Information Office or from Lorna on 01242 603988.

O Sing Unto The Lord A New Song – Northleach March 1 & Tetbury March 8, 2014

O Sing Unto The Lord

Sing Unto The Lord A New Song

Northleach Parish Church Saturday 1st March 2014

Tetbury Parish Church, Saturday 8th March 2014

With Robin Baggs – organ

Conducted by John Holloway

Here is the complete programme:

  • Purcell – O Sing Unto The Lord
  • Lotti – Crucifixus
  • Mozart – Church Sonata  K336
  • Purcell – My Heart is Inditing
  • Blow – I Beheld, And Lo, A Great Multitude
  • Caldara – Crucifixus
  • Purcell – Chaccone in G minor
  • Purcell – Jehova Quam Multi Sunt Hostes Mei
  • Handel – Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened

Buy tickets online or on the door. Also available at Northleach and Tetbury Tourist Information Offices or from Lorna on 01242 603988.

“An excellent, coherent programme”

Thank you to everyone who came to hear us in Cirencester Parish Church last night, and for all the kind comments. A special mention must go to Alexander Aldren, an extremely talented tenor who sang the solo of Leighton’s ‘Crucifixus Pro Nobis’ so beautifully! And thank you David Whitehead for the excellent accompaniment and organ recitals as always.

Thanks also to Doug Watt, for this great review pasted in below. For anyone who missed us, we’re performing the same programme at Holy Apostles, Cheltenham, on 30th November 2013.


Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice – Cantores Chamber Choir at Cirencester Parish Church

16 November, 2013

On Saturday, Cantores returned to their spiritual home of Cirencester Parish Church for a programme of sacred music built around atonement. They were joined by David Whitehead at the organ and the remarkable young tenor, Alexander Aldren, substituting for an indisposed Christopher Lombard.

The earliest pieces were Parry’s ‘Songs of Farewell’ where the choir’s confident and full sound was best suited to the exacting acoustic. In Gorecki’s ‘Totus Tuus’ some fine dynamics hinted at a close musical understanding of this Marian hymn but Leighton’s ‘Crucifixus Pro Nobis’ was the signature set of the evening, speaking to the sacred, Anglican choral tradition which underpins this group. It was here that Alexander Aldren gave an assured and controlled lead in difficult solos, showing a technique and reading beyond his youth.

It was appropriate that the choir also gave Sir John Tavener’s ‘The Lamb’ in this week of his passing, surely a piece which we will hear many times this Christmas. In Lukaszewski’s ‘Lenten Motets’ the top voices produced some bell-like sounds to display this choir’s growing abilities. The main piece of the concert, FInzi’s ‘Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice’ challenged individual pairs and trios with its exposed, idiosyncratic phrases and this precise choir coped well with that.

David Whitehead gave us Leighton’s ‘Paean’ and Howell’s ‘Psalm Prelude’, the latter showcasing the range of this organ’s fine stops. John Holloway created an excellent, coherent programme, integrated in style, content and execution.

Doug Watt

Lo, The Full, Final Sacrifice


Finzi’s masterpiece sung by Cantores Chamber Choir

Here are two dates for your diary! Cantores will be returning Cheltenham and Cirencester this autumn, performing a mixture of stunning twentieth century masterpieces and some old favourites:

  • Leighton – Crucifixus Pro Nobis
  • Parry – Songs of Farewell
  • Lauridsen – O magnum mysterium

Don’t miss us at:

Cirencester Parish Church: Saturday 16th November 2013 7.30pm

Holy Apostles, Cheltenham: Saturday 30th November 2013 7.30pm

Buy tickets: Online at

Or at the door. Also available at Cirencester and Cheltenham Tourist Information Offices. Or call Lorna on 01242 603988

Two rarely heard masterpieces. One concert not to be missed.


This November, Cantores Chamber Choir are giving lovers of choral song the chance to hear rarely heard works by two masters of English composition, Gerald Finzi (left) and Kenneth Leighton (right).

“It’s often said that the worst poems make the best songs,” says Cantores’ Musical Director John Holloway. “But Finzi was a genius for choosing wonderful texts and setting them in a masterful way.” Lo, The Full Final Sacrifice takes the powerful metaphysical imagery of Richard Crashaw, John Donne and Thomas Traherne and transforms them into a spellbinding piece of music.

Kenneth Leighton was a protégé of Finzi’s. He was very aware of the radical musical departures taking place on mainland Europe, and wrote his masterpiece ‘Crucifix pro Nobis’ in 1961. The final, unaccompanied setting of the seventeenth century poem ‘Drop, drop slow tears’ is a staggeringly powerful piece after the torment and tumult of the first three movements.

Cantores are performing the pieces on:
Saturday 16th November, 7.30pm at Cirencester Parish Church and
Saturday 30th November, 7.30pm at Holy Apostles, Cheltenham.
To book your tickets, call 07721 377936 or book online.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers