A programme of sacred works by early Tudor composers of the richly productive period before the Reformation in England
with The Chester Viols, Director: Peter Syrus
English music for a Lady Chapel
Lady Chapels formed part of every cathedral built in England after the conquest. The music composed to be performed in them centred on the figure of Mary, mother of Jesus, and it is from this splendid but little known pre-reformation Marian culture that 2010's Christmas recital by the Renaissance Music Group was drawn.
Although many of the dramatic details of the life and times of Henry VIII are well known, we are less familiar with the riches of the music of the period. From the time of the end of the Wars of the Roses, ushering the Tudor dynasty, choirs expanded and flourished in the cathedrals, colleges and churches of this country. England was regarded as the ‘Dowry of Mary’ and some of the best music of the age, lofty, powerful and superbly structured, was written in her honour. The works are devotional and extended, starting with sub-sections of the choir and building up to a glorious use of the full choir, complementing the high vaulted Gothic spaces in which they were designed to be heard. This artistic tradition came to an abrupt end with the Reformation.
Our programme highlighted works from among these pre-Reformation composers - Richard Davy (in one of his contributions to the famous Eton Choir Book of around 1505), Hugh Aston and Nicholas Ludford but also included one by Thomas Tallis, the sole composer to remain active in later times. As usual, the Group was joined by The Chester Viols.