Concert by William Byrd Choir and The City Musick: Byrd and Victoria

28 July 2018
18:00 - 20:00
william byrd choir
The William Byrd Choir is a group of 16 professional singers who specialise in Renaissance polyphony, and who are variously members of leading early music ensembles in London. In recent years the Choir has promoted an annual concert in Norfolk, usually at Salle Church; but this year they perform at the Cathedral, where they will be joined by the Renaissance wind band The City Musick.

The programme includes some of the finest English and Spanish church music of what was a golden musical age in both countries. The Mass for Four voices is the most forthright and dramatic of Byrd’s much-loved settings, but also the most unsettled in mood, especially in the famous Agnus Dei which reflects the anguish of a conflicted Elizabethan Catholic – in the anomalous position of a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal but covertly a member of a banned religion. That sorrow is also vividly expressed in the great penitential double motet Ne irascaris Domine (Be not angry with us O Lord), one of a several subversive psalm settings using the texts of Jewish laments to reflect the sufferings of post-Reformation English Catholics. Also included is Byrd’s more upbeat Exsurge Domine (Arise O Lord, why sleepest thou) which vigorously chides God for not to coming to the aid of the English faithful.

Tomás Luis de Victoria was another fervent Catholic composer, but one living a less troubled life at the heart of Catholic Europe (in both Spain and Italy). He could compose confident, even triumphalist Counter-Reformation polyphony in the style of Palestrina; but much of his music displays a more sombre and intense Spanish spirituality. The choir will sing a group of Victoria’s beautiful four-part motets in contrasting moods. There will also be instrumental music by both Byrd and Victoria in each half of the concert, performed by The City Musick. The programme ends with two of Victoria’s works for double choir with cornett, sackbut, shawm, dulcian and organ. Wind bands were common in the large musical establishments of Spanish Cathedrals in the Golden Age, and Victoria’s Magnificat Primi Toni for two choirs and instruments will provide an impressive finale to the concert.

Tickets: £10 - £30

Book online here, visit Norwich Theatre Royal Box Office in person, or call 01603 630000.