Since the fourth century, the service of Compline has marked the end of the day, ushering in the darkness of the night. Much of the music here is inspired by this ancient service. The first half of the album features a selection of atmospheric works that relate to the transition between light and darkness. Then there is a turning point; the light returns, birds sing, and flowers bloom once more.
We very much enjoyed performing live on Radio Three on this Tuesday’s edition of In Tune with long-time friend of the group Sean Rafferty. We performed works by Rutter and Eleanor Daley alongside Angelus ad Virginem and group favourite Gaudete, ahead of our Advent and Christmas concerts. You can listen again for the next month by clicking here.
We are delighted to present our second album, Christmas, which is now available to order.
For centuries Christmas and the surrounding seasons have inspired composers to new heights of invention. This programme reaches across the ages, from the eternal beauty of the Tudor church right up to the twenty-first century, with each piece chosen to evoke a sense of mystery and joy.
Our launch concert will be held on Friday 29 November 2019 in London. Tickets are available here.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
“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)
“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.
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!