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Byrd and his contemporaries

18 February 2023 @ 10:30 am 5:00 pm

Directed by John Bryan

Scaynes Hill Village Centre

Saturday 18 February 2023 @ 10:30 am – 5:00 pm

William Byrd died 400 years ago, in 1623, an octogenarian whose long life witnessed much change, in the monarchy, the church, and in English society. A Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, he served Queen Elizabeth and James I loyally, but his sympathies lay with the Catholic recusants who continued to worship in secret in the pre-Reformation manner. As a musician he contributed masterpieces to virtually all the styles of his day: music for English services; mass ordinaries and Latin motets for his Catholic friends; songs for plays and for the home, ranging from devout psalm settings to pastoral topics; instrumental consort music; and keyboard music.

This workshop will explore pieces from several of these genres: we will concentrate on parts of the Mass for Four Voices, Latin motets and more ‘ceremonial’ Anglican Elizabethan music. We will also explore some of Byrd’s secular songs and the instrumentalists will also have the opportunity to give the singers a breather by working on one or two dance pieces.

We will adopt a practice that we know Byrd used on at least one occasion in 1580, when he performed music for a recusant mass ‘with instruments’: appropriate instruments (viols, violins, recorders, cornetts, sackbuts, well-behaved dulcians) are invited to join with the singers, and there will be scope for lute or harp to supply continuo if players are happy to work from bass parts and/or scores. We will also put Byrd’s music into its historical framework by investigating pieces by his predecessors in Tudor England such as Philip Van Wilder and Thomas Tallis.

Please note: Altos now full. Room for two more tenors.

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