Saturday, April 26, 2014

Between Conscience and Duty: William Byrd and Thomas Tallis at Princeton

Gallicantus, the group that recorded The Word Unspoken: Sacred Music by William Byrd and Philippe de Monte, is performing two concerts at Princeton University this weekend--one on Saturday, based on the album and the other on Sunday, featuring several "lamentable" compositions. Here is a link to the programs for the concerts.

The first concert is all about Byrd's dilemma, which I've described before of how to be a faithful musical servant to Elizabeth I and be a faithful Catholic at the same time. Gallicantus explores Byrd's motets that serve as coded lamentations over the fall of Catholicism in England (his conscience), then some English works written for Protestant audiences, praising Elizabeth I (his duty), and finally juxtapose the settings of Psalm 136 he and Philippe de Monte exchanged in 1583.

The second concert is all about Thomas Tallis' survival as a Catholic throughout the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, but seems to set an elegaic and dark tone, as works chosen for the concert are settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah (for Lenten Tenebrae), and hymns for night prayer (Te Lucis Ante Terminum and Christe Quui Lux es et Dies)--"Sweet Laments of the English Renaissance" could be a Lenten concert, but is being performed on the Octave Day of Easter! And it much resembles the program of Latin works recorded by Magnificat on Linn Records' Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang!

Read more about the concerts here and here.

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