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.