We are passionate about being able to share our music with as wide and diverse an audience as possible; one of the ways we like to do this is through our videos. One effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our work was been to accelerate our video production, and to achieve this we’ve been lucky enough to be able to invest in enough equipment to be able to make our own music videos in 4K. During lockdowns we also created several videos as part of our Isolation Creation project.
Our first video was ‘Veni, Veni Emmanuel’, released way back in December 2014; and we have since released many more through our YouTube channel. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with video blogs from our tours, rehearsal clips, updates about our latest projects, and check our our Patreon for behind-the-scenes insights into life within the group!
In Afflicti pro peccatis nostris Byrd weaves 5 voices around a chant cantus firmus in the baritone part, and the motet’s two-part structure mirrors that of Tristitia et anxietas. We often perform it at the opening of our concerts as the unfurling of Byrd’s counterpoint, starting with the tenor part, is a wonderful introduction the the style of polyphony that so typifies Byrd’s style.
The CD’s centrepiece is Byrd’s stunning Mass for Five Voices. Written to be performed in secret by recusant Catholics and left unsung for over 300 years, the Mass for Five Voices is the most complex and ornate of Byrd’s three mass settings for this purpose and features many unforgettable motifs and some of his most sumptuous imitative polyphony.
Interspersed between the movements of the Mass for Five voices are some of our favourite latin motets, including Tristitia et anxietas, Circumdederunt me dolores mortis and this glorious setting of Emendemus in melius.
Also featured on the CD is a new completion of Byrd’s Lamentations by our very own director Owain Park. Here is Byrd’s setting of the Hebrew Letter ‘TETH’, one of several which appear as decorated titles to each section of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, serving almost as illuminations headers to the ancient text, deploring the destruction of Jerusalem around 500BC.
In honour of Byrd’s 400th anniversary year in 2023 we are touring Secret Byrd, an immersive concert experience based around Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices, working alongside the wonderful viol consort Fretwork, Bill Barclay and Concert Theatre Works.
O Virgo Prudentissima is a gorgeous Marian devotion by Josquin des Prez which showcases his control of texture and musical architecture. We were delighted to be able to rehearse and record this amazing work alongside the Italian Ensemble Odhecaton last October in Follina in northern Italy, and it will also appear on our own Josquin’s Legacy CD, released later in 2021. Here is the prima pars, appropriately filmed in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral.
During the first UK lockdown, we found ourselves glued to our screens as Héloïse Werner captured our imaginations with her coronasolfège videos. We thought it would be fun to try it out for ourselves – amazingly, Héloïse thought so too and so we commissioned coronasolfège for 6, which we are now delighted to present as a video:
We were very pleased to release an extended live video of Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah II as part of the Bitesize Proms, helping to raise money for Help Musicians, which continues to do incredible work supporting musicians affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Filmed live in the stunning acoustic of the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, the text is drawn from the Old Testament book of Lamentations, in which the prophet Jeremiah bewails the destruction of Jerusalem. Throughout the first chapter of lamentations, letters from the Hebrew alphabet (GHIMEL, HETH and DALETH) serve as an acrostic, and function in the polyphony as small embellished subtitles, as they might in an illuminated manuscript.
While we were unable to meet in person due to social-distancing measures, we continued to sing together through our Isolation Creation series.
While we weren’t able to meet under lockdown conditions, we decided to make a second Isolation Creation video with our friend, the fantastic trumpeter Matilda Lloyd, with whom we collaborated last spring.
James Macmillan’s In Splendoribus Sanctorum is a fantastically atmospheric work, and it was a delight to work with Matilda again.
Our first video from Isolation is a new work by our director, Owain Park, written specifically for groups unable to meet together to sing, Night Prayer sets the latin hymn ‘Te lucis ante terminum’, a text that has often opened our live concerts.
We were very sad to be unable to work and sing with the choristers of Truro Cathedral this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we were delighted to be able to work with them remotely through our Isolation Creation series. Thanks to Josh who put the audio together and Owain who edited the huge video file that resulted from our first-ever double choir performance: Sir John Tavener’s Hymn to the Mother of God.
The incredibly atmospheric church of St. Bartholomew the Great in London was the perfect location to launch our third album ‘Fading’, which features a variety of music inspired by the service of compline. In the weeks leading up to our launch concert we again met to record videos for some of our favourite tracks from our latest release on the Hyperion label.
Phos Hilaron is a setting of the ancient Greek text by our director Owain Park. Among the earliest known Christian hymns, Phos hilaron (‘Gladdening light’) can be dated to at least the fourth century on account of its inclusion in the Apostolic Constitutions—prescriptive texts compiled in the Syrian region in the 370s AD. Contemplating the dying light of the evening, the hymn has traditionally been associated with the ritual lighting of candles.
Marjal aega magada is one of the Four Estonian Lullabies by Veljo Tormis. Translating roughly as ‘It’s time for the little berry to sleep’, Marjal aega magada has the quality of a lament, with the emphasis placed on the second beat of each bar, so the music never quite settles.
Ahead of our Christmas Tour in December 2019, we released videos of some of our favourite tracks from our festive repertoire, including some from our second album.
There is a flower represents Mr. Christmas himself: John Rutter, on our second CD. It’s a piece we’ve performed a lot, including live on Radio 3 and is often a real highlight in concert.
Gaudete is a firm group-favourite, a fantastic arrangement of an ancient carol that’s been in our repertory since our first Advent concert, back in 2014.
We first came across the music of Eleanor Daley while touring Canada as undergraduates, and we were overjoyed to be able to include this stunning lower-voice setting on our second album, ‘Christmas’, a programme that reaches across the ages inspired by the mystery and joy of the festive season. Filmed in St. James, Sussex Gardens in 2019, it features our tenors and basses with a solo from our first tenor: Joseph.
This is the Truth sent from above is our first team-favourite, in an arrangement by Vaughan-Williams with a final verse re-imagined by our own Owain Park.
Taken live from our concert in Schwäbisch Gmund in July 2019, here is Ego Flos Campi by Clemens non Papa.
We had an amazing time performing our English Motets programme in the Festival Europäische Kirchenmusik, and it seemed appropriate to our repertoire to stray into Europe for our encore: this lovely setting from the Song of Songs in 7 parts.
To commemorate the centenary of the November Armistice of 1918 we decided to make a music video of Owain’s Sequence: In Parenthesis. Shot partly in Guy’s Chapel in London Bridge and partly on location in Mametz Wood and across the Somme, the video stars our very own Samuel Mitchell as the Narrator. Producing our first longer-form music video was an extremely rewarding process, and gave us new perspective on Owain’s work, which draws texts from David Jones’ epic poem, itself titled In Parenthesis, and sets them with songs both from the trenches and from those times. David Jones’ work is very heavily steeped in song, and it is nearly always involved at the most dramatic moments of the book. Having performed this work in concert many times across the globe, we’re proud to be able to present Sequence: In Parenthesis. Featuring Samuel Mitchell and The Gesualdo Six, and filmed, edited and produced by Guy James and Owain Park.
We recorded in Ely cathedral as part of the cathedral’s #TheWay campaign for Lent 2018. This time we recorded 5 videos nearby the altar of the cathedral. It was an amazing experience to see the whole length of the building stretching in the gloom.
The first video from #TheWay is Thomas Tallis’ Te Lucis Ante Terminum, a setting of a text taken from the compline service.
The second video from #TheWay is William Byrd’s well-known setting of Ave Verum. We chose this simple 4 voice work to open our second-ever concert, in Cambridge back in the spring of 2014, and thus it was a very appropriate choice to start our CD Launch Concert in London four years later.
Most of our repertoire is taken from the renaissance and contemporary compositions but sometimes we like to perform works from in between these two eras and explore works not written specifically for men’s voices. Rheinberger’s Abendlied is one such piece. Literally a song for the evening, the first version of Abendlied was written when Josef Rheinberger was only 15 years old.
The last two videos from #TheWay campaign are both extracts of mass settings. Byrd’s Mass for Five voices is an astonishing compositional achievement, alongside the Masses for three and four voices. The Agnus Dei as the final movement is in some senses the culmination of these settings and features two short trios before the whole group is joined together for the final statement of Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: dona nobis pacem.
The final video from #TheWay campaign, released on Easter day, is the Gloria from Machaut’s La Messe de Notre Dame. This is the earliest surviving complete mass setting and is one of the earliest pieces that the group performs.
One of our favourite moments during the recording of English Motets was combining all 7 of our voices in one of Sheppard’s most precious gems: Libera Nos II.
Free us, save us, do justly with us, O Blessed Trinity.
Recorded in the dead of night in the place of our founding, Trinity College Chapel in Cambridge, we present ‘If ye love me’. Thomas Tallis’ perfect and simple setting of words from John’s Gospel is one of the tracks on our new release English Motets, released over Easter 2018.
We were delighted to be invited back to Ely to record three of our favourite pieces for advent for the cathedral’s #aChristmasMiracle campaign. Our previous video recordings in Ely were made in the lush acoustic of the Lady Chapel, and this time we were delighted to record our advent pieces under the cathedral’s beautiful octagon.
The first release is the beautiful and simple traditional advent carol by Praetorius, ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’.
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The second release is a work by our very own Owain Park, a setting a poem by Francis Quarles’ poem ‘On the Infancy of our Savour’.
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The third and last of the Christmas releases from Ely is a lovely arrangement by Philip Lawson of the classic carol ‘Away in a Manger’.
Allegri’s Miserere with Blackburn Cathedral Choristers – Spring Tour 2017
In March 2017 we were thrilled to be able to hold workshops and perform live with the choristers of Blackburn’s vibrant cathedral. It was a rare opportunity for us to explore music written for more than 6 or 7 parts and to share some of our passion for Italian music with future generations of church musicians. The work features a mis-transposed quartet which famously includes several top Cs and this was sung beautifully by 4 of the older choristers from the choir at Blackburn while the other 5 parts were made up by using ourselves as the ATB parts of the SSATB choir. Listen out for the wonderful chord on the word ‘TUNC’ near to the end of this well-known work.
In the Spring of 2017 we teamed up with Ely Cathedral for their #LiveHolyWeek campaign to record five videos for Holy Week in the amazing Lady Chapel in Ely.
The first of these videos is Thomas Tomkins’ When David Heard, a lament with text from the Old Testament.
When David heard that Absalom was slain
He went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, and thus he said:
my son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!
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The second in Ely Cathedral’s #LiveHolyWeek initiative is Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Factae Sunt from his Responsories for Good Friday.
Tenebrae factae sunt, dum crucifixissent Jesum Judaei:
et circa horam nonam exclamavit Jesus voce magna:
Deus meus, ut quid me dereliquisti?
Et inclinato capite, emisit spiritum.
V. Exclamans Jesus voce magna ait:
Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum.
Darkness fell when the Jews crucified Jesus:
and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
V. Jesus cried with a loud voice and said:
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
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Here is Byrd’s Miserere Mei, Deus, a beautiful setting for five voices.
Miserere mei, Deus,
secundum magnam misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum,
dele iniquitatem meam.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
after thy great goodness:
according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.
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Despite being titled as a sextet we really enjoy being able to explore repertoire for fewer and more voices. Our director Owain joins the basses in this rendition of Vide, Homo by Orlando di Lassus.
Vide homo quae pro te patior,
Ad te clamo, qui pro te morior,
Vide poenas quibus afficior;
Vide clavos quibus confodior;
Non est dolor sicut quo crucior;
Et cum sit tantus dolor exterior,
Intus tamen dolor est gravior,
Tam ingratum cum te experior.
See, O man, what things I endure for you;
To you I cry, I who am dying for you;
See the pains with which I am afflicted;
See the nails with which I am pierced.
There is no suffering like unto that with which I am tormented.
And though the outward suffering be so great,
Yet is the inward suffering heavier still,
When I find you to be so ungrateful!
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The final video in our Holy Week series Pawel Łukaszewski’s Recessit Pastor Noster. The group has a very close attachment with settings of the Tenebrae Responsories as they comprised the first concert we ever performed. Since then we have enjoyed discovering and performing other settings of these texts, including several settings from the Maundy Thursday Responsories which were specially written for our 2016 Composition Competition. Łukaszewski’s uniquely atmospheric setting of this text from the Responsories for Holy Saturday from his Responsoria Tenebrae (2010), is one of our favourites.
Recessit pastor noster fons aquae vivae
ad cuius transitum sol obscuratus est:
Nam et ille captus est, qui captivum tenebat primum hominem:
hodie portas mortis et seras pariter Salvator noster disrupit.
V: Destruxit quidem claustra inferni
et subvertit potentias diaboli.
Our Shepherd is departed, the fount of living water,
At whose passing the sun was darkened,
For even he was made captive who was holding captive the first man.
Today the gates of death and their bars as well our Savior has destroyed.
V: Indeed He has destroyed the strongholds of the underworld
And he has overthrown the powers of the devil.
Our ‘Live in Concert’ series gives us a chance to share some of our favourite repertoire. The audio is always taken from live performances and sometimes the video is made up from a selection of concerts and sessions on a tour.
The first ‘Live in Concert’ video in 2018 is Monteverdi’s madrigal ‘Sfogava con le stelle’. We really enjoyed performing in the beautiful St. Mary’s church in Warwick, where we performed a programme of sacred and secular music inspired by madrigalian themes for Leamington Music.
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Our Epiphany instalment for our ‘Live in Concert’ series is a wonderful carol by Herbert Howells. Howells’s music is very close to all of our hearts and we were really pleased to be able to perform some of his music during our Christmas tour in 2016. This performance was filmed live during our concert at St John’s Smith Square.
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Jonathan Rathbone’s stunning setting of ‘The Oxen’ provides a perfect festive instalment for our ‘Live in Concert’ series. It was filmed in venues across our ‘Veni, Veni Emmanuel’ Tour in Advent 2016 and features live audio from our concert in St Martin’s church in Salisbury.
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Two Spirituals arranged by Dale Adelmann are the second instalment in our ‘Live in Concert’ series, recorded in the beautiful church of St James the Greater in Leicester and featuring video recorded in a range of venues across our second Summer Tour!
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‘Deliver me from mine enemies’ is the first instalment in our ‘Live in Concert’ series. It was recorded during the fifth concert of our 2016 Summer Tour, in St James the Greater in Leicester.
In December 2014 we released our first music video, a recording of ‘Veni, Veni Emmanuel’ arranged by Phillip Lawson.