Jacobean Secrets

Saturday 18 March 7.30pm
All Saints′ Church, Weston Green, Esher, Surrey KT10 8JL (view map)
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In Jacobean England there were few more hazardous lifestyle choices than openly professing sympathy towards Roman Catholicism. Members of Catholic congregations and families were forced to attend Anglican services or were punished for failing to do so, while their own services were held in secret in domestic surroundings. But they did not worship without music. We have often drawn on William Byrd’s monumental Gradualia collection of liturgical music (the motets in honour of All Saints are among our favourites) and other composers also contributed towards the devotional lives of the major Catholic families.

The Latin motets in this programme have survived in books from their domestic libraries, not from cathedrals or other major churches, and with one exception (Kirbye’s Vox in Rama) have failed to find a place in the repertoire of liturgical choirs or, in some cases, even be published until this century. The reasons for this are certainly not comments on the intrinsic interest or quality of the music, but mundanely practical. Some of the pieces have survived incomplete (with one or more voice part missing) and so require careful analysis of the surviving music and then some composition in the appropriate style; some require either very high (or very low) notes; some require individual voice parts to sing very wide ranges; and some employ quite challenging harmony of the kind we might more readily associate with the bolder madrigals of Weelkes or John Wilbye.

But The Ripieno Choir enjoys a challenge and, not for the first time, is excited to present fine music that few will have heard since the earliest performances. As he often does David Hansell has checked, evaluated and sometimes corrected the work of previous editors and publishers and has enjoyed entering the minds of the composers to fill the gaps that history has created in their music.

The English anthems that complete the programme have a more straightforward history and have enjoyed a virtually unbroken performance history since they were written. All are absolute masterpieces, regularly to be heard in our cathedrals and major churches. Orlando Gibbons’s O clap your hands even earned him a Doctorate in Music from Oxford University, where Richard Nicolson was the subject’s first Professor.

Finally, all our 2017 programmes will contain at least one piece by Claudio Monteverdi, baptised on 15th May 1567. We are assuming that he was born the previous day (baptism followed swiftly upon birth at the time) and will be presenting a free concert of his music on Sunday 14th May. In the meantime, the lively Gloria from one of his three surviving mass settings will serve as an appetiser.

£16 in advance, £18 on the door.
£5 for under 18s
Group discounts are available – please contact box office for more information.

Purchase tickets via the box office on:

✆ 020 8399 2714, or
vox@ripienochoir.org.uk, or
PP_Acceptance_Marks_for_LogoCenter_266x142 through our Tickets page