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.

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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.

First concerts of 2018

Bristol Holy Trinity Saturday 6 January at 7.30pm | Salisbury St Martin’s Sunday 7 January at 3pm

We are looking forward to ringing in the first weekend of the new year with performances in Bristol and Salisbury. On Saturday 6 January 2018, we return to Holy Trinity Church in Westbury-on-Trym to conclude their 1300th anniversary celebrations. We then travel to Salisbury to perform for the third time in St Martin’s Church. Both programmes are centred around music for Epiphany, and will feature renaissance and contemporary works intermingled with plainchant. Featured composers include Sir John Tavener, Herbert Howells, Arvo Pärt and Cheryl Frances-Hoad. Tickets are just £10, with a £5 reduced rate for students.

Programme to include
Tavener The Lamb
Cornelius Three Kings from Persian lands afar
Pärt Morning Star
Byrd Praise our Lord all ye Gentiles
Eccard When to the Temple Mary went


BRISTOL – 6 JANUARY 2018 at 7:30 PM


SALISBURY – 7 JANUARY 2018 at 3:00 PM

Owain interviewed by Planet Hugill

Owain was recently interviewed by Planet Hugill about upcoming concerts at the Temple Winter Festival, including his debut with the BBC Singers, as well as our performance on Thursday 14 December 2017. Here is an extract from the interview:

“Owain Park is a busy young man, as he combines working with his vocal group The Gesualdo Six with a burgeoning conducting career, work as a composer including writing a commission for Nigel Short and Tenebrae’s recent tour, not to mention singing. Owain will be wearing two of these hats during the Temple Winter Festival (11-15 December 2017) when he and The Gesualdo Six will be giving a lunchtime recital, and in another concert Owain will be conducting the BBC Singers.

“The Gesualdo Six’s concert at the Temple Christmas Festival combines early and modern music for Advent and Christmas from Byrd to Cheryl Frances-Hoad, along with some arrangements. Owain explained that the programme brings together pieces from the group’s 2016 Christmas tour, having undergone a process of streamlining, and the intention was to make a programme which was attractive to as wide and audience as possible, and he emphasises that the tickets are cheap too. They will be performing Jonathan Harvey’s Annunciation re-scored for six voices, and Owain sees the piece as having links with the early pieces in the programme. The group has done quite a few performances at St John’s Smith Square (where they were Young Artists in 2015-2016), and Owain comments that it is nice to be appearing elsewhere in London.”

Read the full article here.

#aChristmasMiracle videos from Ely Cathedral

We’re very pleased to announce the release of the first of three videos for advent that we recorded under the octagon in Ely Cathedral as part of their #aChristmasMiracle Campaign. This release is Praetorius’ simple and beautiful ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’, setting the words of an anonymous German author from the 15th Century. Keep your eyes peeled on our facebook page for the next two videos!

A Spotless Rose is growing,
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.