Flash Concert Announcement: 3 June 2018

Sunday 3 June 2018 at 5.00pm
St Peter’s Church, Hurstbourne Tarrant

We are delighted to be visiting Hurstbourne Tarrant (nr. Andover) to give a concert at St Peter’s Church on Sunday 3 June at 5.00pm.

We have selected some of our favourite repertoire for this programme: from meditative and atmospheric music from our debut album, English Motets, to madrigals and folk song arrangements.

The concert will last around 70 minutes, followed by refreshments. There is free parking available nearby, and proceeds will be used to support the church, who have kindly agreed to hold this performance at the last minute. There is a suggested donation of £10 on the door.

Please help us spread the word via email and social media!

★★★★★ Telegraph Review

The Daily Telegraph | April 2018

★★★★★ Spellbound by a medley of mighty motets

“The genre [motets] flourished mightily in England, as it did all over Europe, and Owain Park, the director of young vocal group The Gesualdo Six has set out to represent the English kind in all its variety.

“It’s an ambitious aim for a single CD – but Park pulls it off. The blend and tuning of the voices is so fine that the group achieves a powerfully full sound.

“The sheer beauty of the group’s sound in lofty high-Renaissance style pieces like Byrd’s Miserere is spellbinding. The fine-grained texture of solo voices allows us to savour the amazing harmonic pungency of English sacred music, which at times seems almost modernist. It is a wonderful achievement.”

The original article by Ivan Hewett appeared in The Daily Telegraph Review, on Saturday 21 April 2018.

A look back on our second Spring Tour

Mike Craddock writes about our second Spring Tour, which took place 2–8 April 2018.

Summer has firmly arrived in the City of London, and I am writing this update in a roof garden near Fleet Street, with a large iced coffee. It is amazing to think that our Spring Tour, with its associated jumpers, wellies and copious precipitation, concluded less than two weeks ago! We spent seven days in a seven-seater crisscrossing the bottom half of the country, giving seven concerts, and launching our first CD, English Motets.

We started our tour in the beautiful Black Mountains, on the Welsh border in Herefordshire. Keener followers of the group will recall that we have spent quite a bit of time in this picturesque corner of the world over the past few years, and indeed we are indebted to the Revd. Nicholas Lowton for taking time out of his busy TV schedule (star of BBC Two’s ‘A Vicar’s Life’) to put on two concerts in the area for us, in Dorstone and Clodock. Coming back to Herefordshire is always a delight, and we are only sad that inclement weather prevented us from staging our third G6 1sts v 2nds cricket match at Michaelchurch-Esley CC; always a hotly contested fixture.

Our next port of call was Bristol, the Park homestead, and a concert in All Saint’s Clifton, a building with a fabulous acoustic, celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year. As is our wont, we fully tested the auditory experience in the venue by singing our first half from every possible nook and cranny. We had the pleasure of performing one of our favourite entries from our 2016 Composition Competition, “A Birthday” by Sarah Rimkus, with the composer in the audience. We managed not to spoil the result of the Champions League game for any of our Kopites in the group, and retired chez Park to watch the highlights of the drubbing Liverpool gave Manchester City.

From Bristol we then headed to our westernmost destination, Colyton in Devon. Our concert in St Andrew’s was incredibly well attended, thanks to the herculean efforts of Margaret Clark, back in the saddle for one last ‘Concert at Colyton’ after her retirement. The next morning included a trip to the waterfront at Seaton, with the associated seaside pastimes of pebble skimming, amusement arcades, and being buffeted by unreasonably strong winds.

Back in the van and off to Winchester, where we engaged in a first tenor transfer, saying goodbye to Gopal and hello to Joseph, who joined us from what looked like a thoroughly strenuous tour in the Scilly Isles with Truro Cathedral Choir. Naturally we worked him hard that night, as he had to get through all the remaining Domino’s pizza which we ordered as vital pre-concert sustenance. Cricket that day was hard fought and high quality, after a slightly abortive attempt at the damp sports field(/bog) in Colyton. The starring cameo was from A. Chance, who retired out after a lofted off side six into the Subaru parked on the adjacent road.

One of the real highlights of the tour was our concert on Saturday afternoon, the official launch of our CD at St Peter’s Eaton Square. It was a wonderful feeling performing the repertoire we enjoyed putting down on disc to a packed church, full of supporters, colleagues and friends of the group old and new. Tallis’s “Suscipe Quaeso Domine” was particularly enjoyable to revisit in a concert setting, and there are few finer places to sing Renaissance music in London than St. Peter’s. Mercifully the sun came out for some Chapel Down sparkling wine on the portico, and we had a great time catching up with everyone after the concert.

Our final concert of the tour was a trip to beautiful Framlingham, which despite the distinctly shoddy weather remained an amazing venue. St Michael’s Church was a great place to round off the week, and appropriately for the launch tour for our first disc, was where we sold out of our first batch of CDs. This seemed a remote possibility when loading them into the car at the start of the week, but the interest and enthusiasm showed in the music has been wonderful for us, and we are so glad to be able to give audiences something to take away with them. Here’s to the first of many CD launch tours!

CD Release – English Motets

 

Today is the day!

 

Our first CD, English Motets, is now available to download via the Hyperion website and iTunes! You can of course continue to order hard copies of our CD from our website shop.

We’re very excited to celebrate the release with our friends, patrons and supporters at our launch concert in St. Peter’s Eaton Square on April 7th at 3pm. Tickets for this concert are available by clicking here.


English Motets (2018)

£12.00

During the renaissance, musical composition flourished, but it was a time of great change, fuelled by religious division. The Gesualdo Six’s debut CD showcases the extraordinary journey composition took around the English Reformation, including works by Tallis, Byrd, Sheppard, Dunstable and Cornysh. Available to pre-order now – dispatched before 30 March 2018.

Category: Tags: , , , , , ,

Description

We are delighted to present our debut album, English Motets (2018).


About the CD

During the renaissance, musical composition flourished, but it was a time of great change, fuelled by religious division. This programme traces music written by some of the English renaissance masters over a period of two-hundred years, encompassing florid medieval-sounding works by Dunstable and Cornysh, intricately woven polyphonic works by Tallis and Sheppard, and the beautiful simplicity of Tomkins and White.

All of these composers were obliged to write in the musical style of the moment, which was constantly fluctuating in one of the most turbulent periods in English history. Lavish Catholic services required suitably elaborate music, with Latin words and rich sonorities. The Protestants did away with such excess, and as the walls were whitewashed so too was the music, with demands placed on composers to set English words as simply as possible, so that every syllable could be clearly heard by the congregation. Then, in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, came a kind of relaxed simplicity, a halfway house, in which the ideal was both that the words could be heard clearly and also that the music should be interesting.

The enormous contribution to this period by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd is represented by the inclusion of three works from each composer, showcasing the versatility of their writing. While all composers in Tudor England were flexible to the period’s shifting religious requirements, none was quite as skillful at reinvention than Tallis, whose musical quality remains absolutely consistent, even while his style changes dramatically. Byrd gave voice to the plight of Catholics in England through many of his compositions, utilising his royal favour to escape punishment for his beliefs, and in doing so wrote some of the most enduring and powerful music of the era.

The presented order is not a linear journey, but a grouping akin to a concert programme, where a balance of fast and slow, similarity and contrast is all brought into play. The incredible productivity of composers writing during this period, coupled with the advent of printed sheet music and licenses granted for its production has resulted in a wealth of material available to us – and, as such, selecting only a handful of works to reside under the banner of ‘The English Motet’ was by no means easy. But I hope that we have managed to showcase something of the extraordinary journey composition took around the English Reformation, and in turn reflect our immense enjoyment in performing the music we all grew up singing.


Track list

Suscipe quæso Domine Thomas Tallis (c.1505 – 1585)
Vigilate William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623)
Loquebantur variis linguis Thomas Tallis
When David heard Thomas Tomkins (1572 – 1656)
If ye love me Thomas Tallis
Libera nos I John Sheppard (c.1515 – 1558)
Christe, qui lux es et dies (I) Robert White (c.1538 – 1574)
O Lord, in thy wrath Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625)
Veni Sancte Spiritus John Dunstable (1390 – 1453)
Haec Dies Thomas Morley (1557 – 1603)
Quemadmodum John Taverner (c.1490 – 1545)
Ave Maria Mater Dei William Cornysh (dc.1502)
Deliver me from mine enemies Robert Parsons (1535 – 1572)
Ne irascaris Domine William Byrd
i. Ne irascaris Domine
ii. Civitas sancti tui
Libera nos II John Sheppard


Listen to our album on iTunes here


 

BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’ – Listen again – 16 March 2018

We had a great time returning to the BBC to appear on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ for our fourth(!) time yesterday. We spoke to Sean Rafferty about our upcoming CD release and Spring Tour and performed some works from our tour programme: Palestrina’s Io son Ferito and Put out into the Deep by friend of the group David Bednall, alongside three of Poulenc’s Les Petites Voix. Originally scored for children’s choir, these short adorable songs by Poulenc tell stories about a girl coming home from school with her bag, a small unwell boy and a little scared hedgehog.

The team arrive at the set of W1A

British audiences can listen again by clicking here. We joined the programme live from 1:25:00. There’s also a sneak preview of Josh’s favourite piece: Byrd’s Vigilate, from our very soon to be released CD English Motets, at 00:13:34.


CD Launch Concert

We are very much looking forward to launching our debut album, English Motets, with a concert in London on Saturday 7 April 2018 at 3pm. Our venue is St Peter’s Eaton Square, a remarkable building with a great acoustic for renaissance polyphony and a fabulous Portico for post-concert refreshments. Tickets are available to purchase in advance here. We hope you can join us to celebrate the release of our first CD!

Listen to samples on iTunes | Add event to Google Calendar | Map | Tickets

Sam has arrived very early indeed for our launch concert at St Peter’s Eaton Square in London.

Spring Tour 2018

We are delighted to present our second Spring Tour, a series of concerts taking place during the first week of April. We will be touring a programme featuring works from our debut album, English Motets.

CONCERT DATES

2 April 2018
Dorstone (Herefordshire)
St Faith’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


3 April 2018
Clodock (Herefordshire)
St Clydawg’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


4 April 2018
Bristol
All Saint’s Church, Clifton
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


5 April 2018
Colyton (Devon)
St Andrew’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link
in advance from The Little Shop | phone 01297 553238 | on the door


6 April 2018
Holy Trinity Church, Winchester
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


7 April 2018
London
St Peter’s Eaton Square (CD Launch event)
Start time: 3:00 PM
Ticket Link


8 April 2018
Framlingham (Suffolk)
St Michael’s Church
Start time: 3:00 PM
Ticket Link


Concert programmes can be found on Classical Events.

Epiphany Concert Weekend

We have just enjoyed a busy weekend putting on our first-ever Epiphany concerts in Bristol and Salisbury! Both hometowns of group members, they were the perfect places to explore some exciting new repertoire for Epiphany alongside some more familiar favourites.

A very happy crew fuelling up with delicious vegetable soup and focaccia ahead of our rehearsal in Westbury-on-Trym.

As you can see, we were very generously looked after by Owain’s family in Bristol (including a gorgeous lasagna that I feel sure Joseph will remember with longing well into 2019) and we enjoyed a restful night before heading South East as a 3 car convoy to Salisbury. Stocked up with lunch and bag-fulls of tea, coffee and biscuits we entered the familiar Sarum St. Martin’s Church to see a glorious sunbeam illuming the incense from morning mass. We filmed a short video of a verse from Robert White’s ‘Christe, qui lux es et dies’ mid-rehearsal, in the most appropriate locus in which I have sung White’s bright homophony.

It was a real treat to return to St Martin’s in Salisbury to round off our weekend of Epiphany concerts. Here is a verse from Robert White’s first setting of ‘Christe qui lux es et dies’, capturing the light as it flooded through the church windows.

Posted by The Gesualdo Six on Sunday, 7 January 2018


Memento nostri Domine
In gravi isto corpore,
Qui es defensor animae,
Adesto nobis Domine.

Remember us, O Lord,
Who bear the burden of this mortal form;
You who are the defender of the soul,
Be near us, O Lord.


The concert over, it was lovely to have a chance after both concerts to talk to our fans, followers and friends over mulled wine, nibbles and tea and coffee. Meeting with and hearing from our audiences has always been a big positive for the whole group. It lets us gauge and develop our craft from the perspective of the onlooker, many of them being musicians and performers themselves. I find that this to be very helpful as I find the nature of performance requires utter concentration, which can sometimes leave me with what I later discover to be a skewed perspective of elements like atmosphere and the passage of time. It was very pleasing to hear how many people had seen our Christmas videos, and to introduce and take pre-orders for our debut CD ‘English Motets’. It is due to be released on the 30th of March and includes Robert White’s ‘Christe, qui lux es et dies’ alongside some of our very favourite pieces.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I was very excited for our first performances of ‘The Morning Star’ by Arvo Pärt on this tour. This we performed from the back of both churches as we processed through our concert’s narrative journey as 2 x 3 ‘wise’ men. ‘The Morning Star’ is a wonderful example of piece written in Pärt’s tintinabulli style, with voices sounding as tiny bell-chimes in a very sparse musical texture. It is the first piece by Arvo Pärt that the group has performed since working with the composer himself and the Holst Singers on his Passio. I certainly felt that that experience helped us to find the special sonority required in this much shorter work.

The programme was interspersed with Gregorian Mass Propers at Epiphany. While not the first time that we have used chant in concert, it provided a wonderful reminder of how effective it can be. We can use it as a way to introduce themes and also to maintain a reflective nature of the concert experience, while it also works as a musical ‘palette cleanser’, contrasting with the polyphony which we programme around it. Movement during chant passages enables us to experiment with different acoustics of the building without interfering with the flow of a concert and it provides individual singers short breaks in the programme. This can be a really important consideration, especially for concerts which lack natural intervals.

We shall be returning to the Bristol area as part of our Spring Tour on the 4th of April when we will be performing in All Saints Church in Clifton. I’m sure it won’t be too long until we return to Salisbury again either, especially after the fabulous dinner which the group enjoyed in the town following Sunday afternoon’s concert. All now safely back in London, we are looking forward to our next concert in Warwick on the 23rd of January, when we shall be performing a programme of Madrigals and Motets from Italy’s Golden Age in St. Mary’s Church at 7:30PM.

English Motets CD available for pre-order

We are delighted to reveal our first disc, English Motets, which is now available for pre-order.

Visit the shop to pre-order your copy

Our launch concert takes place on Saturday 7 April 2018 at St Peter’s Eaton Square, London. Tickets are available to purchase in advance here. We will also have our CD available at our Spring Tour concerts (2–8 April 2018).

English Motets is also available to pre-order on iTunes, where audio samples can also be played.