Summer Sessions: Music from the Black Mountains

For our first Summer Sessions series, we present sacred and secular music of the English Renaissance in a selection of beautiful ancient churches, riven into the rolling hills of the Herefordshire borders. 

Join us throughout August 2021 for devotional sacred settings in old English vernacular, bawdy drinking songs of Henry VIII’s court, early English settings of the Song of Songs, and Herefordshire folksongs as they drift across the hedgerows and valleys under the shadow of the Black Mountains.

Each recital premieres on a Saturday in August, and will be available to watch on-demand until the end of September.

About the music

2021 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Robert Fayrfax, who was considered one of the most prominent and influential Tudor composers during the reigns of Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII of England.

We perform two of his songs: Alas, for lack of her presence and Somewhat musing, alongside contemporaneous settings by William Cornysh, John Forest and King Henry VIII.

We will also perform local folk songs from Herefordshire, including Cold blows the windFour seasons of the yearand Awake, awake, sweet England.

About the churches

Clodock church is dedicated to St Clydawg, King of Ewias, who was martyred about 500AD. The present building stands on the site of his tomb, beside the river Monnow and overlooked by the Black Mountains. It dates from the 12th century and is Grade 1 listed.

Dore Abbey nestles in the Golden Valley where the white robed Cistercian monks chose to build in 1147. Their prayerful life included farming and gardening which created income to improve their abbey. Much of their engineering and building skills stand today. Their peace was shattered by the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The present building was saved and restored in the 1630’s by John, Viscount Scudamore.

Said to have been founded by Bishop Herwald of Llandaff in 1056, the church at Michaelchurch Escley hugs the side of a remote valley. A Roman altar is built into a blocked doorway and thirteenth-century wallpaintings decorate the walls in the form of masonry lines, borders with chevron design and consecration crosses.

With thanks to Rev’d Nicholas Lowton and the churchwardens of the Black Mountains Group of Parishes.


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