Kepler’s Trial in Tübingen

The astronomer who saved his mother from being burned as a witch.

In January 2019, we visited the beautiful university town of Tübingen in southwest Germany to perform excerpts from Kepler’s Trial alongside a new work written for us by British composer, Tim Watts, ‘Kepler-Motetten’.

In 1615, when Johannes Kepler was at the height of his career, his old, widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft in a Lutheran town in Germany. The proceedings led to a criminal trial, with Kepler conducting his mother’s defence to fight for legal justice – assisted by Tübingen University.

To find out more, visit the Kepler’s Trial website: http://keplers-trial.com


Reviews

Premiere of Kepler-Motets and the presentation of a book about Kepler’s mother at the Pfleghofsaal.
By Martin Bernklau 19.01.2019

“…the phenomenal a cappella ensemble Gesualdo Six who, inclusive of two countertenors, represent the best in English singing.”

“Not only was Tim Watts’ music framed by historical pieces sung by the Gesualdo Six – such as a drinking song by Johann Hermann Schein or a wonderfully intoned motet by Orlando di Lasso – but sound world and techniques of the Renaissance and Early Baroque have also been incorporated into the Opera and the Motets.”

“Excerpts from the Opera, sung by Cerys Purser and accompanied by the Gesualdo Six and, at times, by the composer on the piano, were highly impressive and dramatic.”

Read the full review here.


The premiere of four Kepler-Motets by Tim Watts as part of the Graduate Research Project “Keplers Welten” (Kepler’s Worlds)
By Achim Stricker 19.01.2019

“The tragic chorus (celebrated vocal sextet ‘The Gesualdo Six’)… is anchored in a musical history context, suggestive of the vocal polyphony of Kepler’s time.”

“…four Kepler-Motets were premiered in front of a capacity audience in the Pfleghofsaal.”

“Dissonance gives rise to harmony and vice versa – altogether remarkable, philosophically and compositionally advanced music.”

Read the full review here.

Rehearsing in the Pfleghofsaal at Tübingen University

CD Recording Appeal

We are asking for your help to release our second album, a CD of music for Advent and Christmas.

Since we first performed this repertoire in 2014, we knew that we wanted to make it into a CD recording. Over the past few years, we have been developing the tracklist, cultivating a unique and exciting festive album that explores the mystery and joy of the Advent and Christmas seasons.

We plan to release this CD in November 2019 on Hyperion Records, and would be incredibly grateful for any support, no matter the size.

To thank those who support this project, we have a series of rewards which you can see listed on our Crowdfunder page.

Visit our Crowdfunder page

featured works will include Es ist ein Ros entsprungen Praetorius | There is a flower John Rutter | Veni, Veni Emmanuel arr. Lawson | Love came down at Christmas Eleanor Daley | Videte miraculum Tallis


Fading Concerts

In February 2019, we will be touring a programme of music that focuses on the transition from light into darkness, Fading. Concerts will include atmospheric works by Nicolas Gombert, Thomas Tallis, Sarah Rimkus and Joanna Marsh.

15 February 2019
Leeds | Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
Start time: 1:05 PM
More Information


17 February 2019
London | St James Sussex Gardens (Paddington)
Start time: 8:00 PM
Ticket Link


18 February 2019
Cambridge | Trinity College Chapel
Start time: 8:00 PM
Ticket Link


19 February 2019
Boxgrove | Boxgrove Priory
Start time: 8:00 PM
Ticket Link


Concerts will feature Abendlied, a beautiful work by German composer, Josef Rheinberger, written when he was just 15.

Interview with John Rutter

As part of our second Composition Competition, John Rutter CBE has been kind enough to answer questions submitted by composers on a range of topics: from notating scores to having them performed.

This week, we will be releasing one video every day at 5pm, each on a different subject. The full version will be available on YouTube on Saturday 1 December. We will release a transcript on our website for those with hearing loss.

Watch the individual releases on our Facebook page here.


Read more about our Composition Competition here.

A Return to Radio 3’s In Tune

We had a fantastic time performing for our 5th (we can’t quite believe it either!) time on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. We spoke with Sean Rafferty about some of our upcoming projects, including our Composition Competition, and performed My heart is like a singing bird by 2016 competition entrant Sarah Rimkus, alongside works by Tallis, Pärt and Phos Hilaron by our own very Owain Park.

You can listen again for a month on the BBC SOUNDS webpage by clicking here.

Quick ‘Live Selfie’ in the In Tune Studio.

WWI Filming Project

To mark the centenary of the Armistice that ended World War I, we present ‘Sequence: In Parenthesis’.


About the project

‘Sequence: In Parenthesis’ is a composition by Owain Park, inspired by David Jones’s epic poem, ‘In Parenthesis’, which narrates the experiences of Private John Ball during World War I.

Based on Jones’s own experience as an infantryman, events include the assault on Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.

Earlier this year, we travelled to Mametz Wood with a soldier’s uniform borrowed from the National Theatre to video on-location.


Composer’s Note

‘Sequence: In Parenthesis’ uses many of the melodies found in David Jones’s work, ‘In Parenthesis’, in conjunction with a narrator who quotes short passages – sometimes related, but often distanced from the choral parts. The original vision for the piece was a dream-like fantasia, that uses melodies quoted in David Jones’s work: English and Welsh hymn tunes and village hall songs are intermingled with trench songs – from both sides of the conflict.

The piece was premiered by Opus Anglicanum, with Zeb Soanes narrating.


Director’s Note

Exploring the events of ‘In Parenthesis’ at Mametz Wood and across the Somme with Owain and Sam was fascinating and deeply moving. I feel that a project such as this can only make a light impression on a work as complex as ‘In Parenthesis’, and indeed in our music, the journey of the protagonist, Private Ball, is only a transparency through which we can see darkly, individual experiences of the Great War.

Songs frequently crop up in David Jones’ writing. In Owain’s composition, these melodies are brought in and out of focus, conveying a spectrum of meanings that are unique to each listener. We have found that the resulting effect has been similarly profound wherever we have performed in concerts around the UK and abroad.

My experience, of both listening to and performing the piece, is that it transcends many of the dichotomies of the Great War and our project intends to reflect this: The historical perspective that is clearest to us as young British singers in 2018, especially given the events currently unfolding around us, is one of reconciliation, cooperation and a sense that the bonds that hold us together are far stronger than the forces that seek to pull us apart.

As we commemorate the centenary of the November Armistice, we remember the lives and sacrifices of a whole generation from all corners of the world, and we rededicate ourselves to working towards a time where we will be able to say with confidence: Never Again.

Samuel Mitchell on location in Mametz Wood.


Our thanks

Revd Jim Craig – Chaplain of Guy’s Chapel, King’s College London
The National Theatre – Costume Hire Department
Jamie Wright – Loan of camera equipment
Mair Park – Design of titles
Hafren Park – Production Assistant
The Friends and Patrons of The Gesualdo Six, especially: Margaret Clark, Jean Hackett, Helen Hudson, Lynn James, Jean & Philip King, George Lewis, Chris Lovell, Jan Montague, John Pastor, John Rowlands-Pritchard, Susan Vinther & Karen Constable.


Music featured in the work

Listed by order of appearance:

– Goodbye, Dolly Gray
– Bring me my harp/David of the white rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen)
– Oh dear! What can the matter be?
– Sosban Fach
– Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
– Casey Jones
– Old soldiers never die
– The Spaniard that blighted my life (If I catch Alphonso Spagoni, the Toreador)
– Oh I do like a s’nice s’mince ‘spie!
– Onward, Christian Soldiers
– I want to go home
– Jesu, lover of my soul
– We’re here because we’re here


Please contact us if you would like to know more about the project.

NEW Composition Competition

Over the last few months, we have been planning a second Composition Competition to coincide with our fifth anniversary and debut appearance at the Cadogan Hall. After the success of our inaugural competition in 2016, we are delighted to be able to reveal the details of our next competition, running from 2018 into 2019.

We have engaged prominent musicians Cheryl Frances-Hoad (composer, Chester Music) and Nigel Short (conductor, Tenebrae) as judges, and the winning pieces will be considered for publication by Novello & Co, part of the Music Sales group of companies.

The Gesualdo Six will premiere the winning works as part of our debut concert at the Cadogan Hall in London on 7 March 2019. Our concert forms part of the Choral at Cadogan series, which also features the Tallis Scholars and VOCES8 as guest artists.

One of the most rewarding experiences of our 2016 competition was running a composition workshop for entrants in the younger category, with sixteen young composers attending to hear their works sung as part of a masterclass and concert. This time, we hope to deliver two workshops for young composers in London and Manchester, and we are currently applying for funding to realise this ambition.

In addition, John Rutter CBE will hold a Q&A session on score presentation before the submission deadline, providing composers with an opportunity to learn from his vast experience of publishing scores and notating music for their own submissions.

Find out more about the competition here.

Ripon, Kosovo and plans afoot

We have just had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend giving our Yorkshire debut at the Ripon International Festival. Our programme included several of our favourite English Motets alongside a second half of contemporary works including Poulenc’s Les Petites Voix. We are hard at work over the next few weeks, with WWI video filming ‘on location’ in France, preparations for our Kosovo debut, and the imminent announcement of our second Composition Competition!

Poulenc Rehearsals. Holy Trinity Church, Ripon.

Rehearsals for Les Petites Voix in full swing in Holy Trinity Church, Ripon.

Canada Tour 2018

We were delighted to embark on our first international tour to Canada this summer, giving seven concerts across three Canadian provinces. Our programmes included meditative and atmospheric choral music from the renaissance to the present day, and featured works from our debut album, English Motets. Highlights included works by William Byrd and Thomas Tallis, alongside ‘O Little Rose, O Dark Rose’ by Canadian composer, Gerda Blok-Wilson, with the programme rounded off by folk song arrangements from the British Isles.

Catch up with our tour blog, with an entry written by each member of the ensemble.


This video explains a little more about our tour to Canada, and features some of the works we performed, including a beautiful piece by Canadian composer, Gerda Blok-Wilson.


CONCERT DATES

Pre-Tour UK Concerts

13 July 2018
Cambridge | The Round Church
Start time: 8:00 PM
Ticket Link

14 July 2018
London | St Clement Danes, The Strand
Start time: 6:30 PM
Ticket Link

15 July 2018
Salisbury | St Martin’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


CANADA TOUR, 17-28 July 2018

17 July 2018
Ottawa, Music & Beyond | St Matthew’s Anglican Church
Start time: 2:00 PM
Ticket Link


18 July 2018
Québec | CAMMAC Centre
Start time: 5:00 PM
Ticket Link


20 July 2018
Victoria | Christ Church Cathedral, Chapel of the New Jerusalem
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


21 July 2018
Vancouver | St James’ Anglican Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


24 July 2018
Music Niagara | St Mark’s Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


26 July 2018
Elora Festival | St John’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link


28 July 2018
Toronto | Cathedral Church of St James
Start time: 7:30 PM
Ticket Link

English Motets makes Bestenliste

The Gesualdo Six’s debut album, English Motets, has been selected as the Critics’ Choice by the jury of the German Record Critics’ Award. The ‘Bestenliste’, released quarterly, nominates new releases “which merit special attention, either for the quality of interpretation or creativity, or for their value to the repertoire.”

Member of the jury, Susanne Benda, praised the disc for its “richly detailed colour scheme”, “virtuosity” and “vitality”.

The German Record Critics’ Award (“Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik”) was established in 1980 to set the ‘most rigorous standards for supreme achievement and quality’ in the field of music recording. These lists provide a candid picture of new releases of outstanding importance judged on purely artistic grounds.

Annual Awards (‘Jahrespreise’) are presented to as many as 15 outstanding productions, and Certificates of Special Merit (‘Ehrenurkunden’) are awarded to three artists and producers for lifetime achievement in recording.

This quarter’s Bestenliste is available to view here: https://www.schallplattenkritik.de/bestenlisten/987-bestenliste-3-2018


“Nicht jedes britische Vokalensemble, das sich der Chorpolyphonie der englischen Renaissance widmet, muss dies auf möglichst vibratoarme und gleichmäßig-lineare Weise tun. Die jungen Herren des Vokalsextetts The Gesualdo Six hebeln diese landläufige Vorstellung mit ihrem Debüt-Album auf erfrischend virtuose Weise aus. Und sie krönen ihren oftmals unpuristisch ausdrucksmutigen Zugriff durch die Tatsache, dass sie eigentlich ein siebenköpfiges Ensemble bilden – denn der bewährte Chorleiter Owain Park, der sie coacht, singt zuweilen mit. Thematisch geht es um Gott und Welt in den ausgewählten Werken aus der erweiterten Tudorzeit. Dabei durchschreiten die Hörer ein auch klangfarblich detailreich durchgestaltetes, vitales, nie konstruiert wirkendes musikalisches Universum.” (Für die Jury: Susanne Benda)