THE TUDORS: A Lenten Musical Journey through 16th-century England
TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR BEGINNING AT 6:30 PM.
The Tudor Choir presents a meditative, candlelit concert of Lenten motets by the greatest English Renaissance composers.
THE TUDORS is the fourth concert of the Tudor Choir's 2012-2013 20th anniversary season. Single tickets may be purchased here.
About THE TUDORS
THE TUDORS is a contemplative concert for the reflective Lenten season. The 12-voice Tudor Choir will perform this candlelit concert in historic Blessed Sacrament Church, an English Gothic Revival building in Seattle's University District, where the choir is a resident ensemble.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
THE TUDORS will include works by 16th-century English composers Robert White, Thomas Tallis, and John Sheppard, as well as a setting of "Stabat mater dolorosa" by the late 15th-century English composer John Browne. Much of the music was composed for use in the season of Lent during the evening service of Compline, the last of the daily monastic hours, sung before going to sleep. Compline, which means "completion," received special attention in England during the 16th century, with many composers setting its texts on themes of light and shadow, a restful sleep, and a peaceful end.
"Christe qui lux es et dies" ("Christ, who is the light and day"), the hymn at Compline during Lent, must have held special appeal for Robert White, who set it no less than for times, alternating chanted verse with verses composed for 6-voice choir. John Sheppard set the Lenten Compline responsories, "In pace in idipsum" ("In peace, in very peace") and "In manus tuas" ("Into your hands"), as a gentle pair, each set for a higher voice and three lower voices ("Three men and a child," as some manuscripts explain). Thomas Tallis provided his own pair of settings of the antiphon "Salvator mundi" ("Savior of the world"), the first spare, the second lush.
The larger works on the program include John Browne's setting of the Marian antiphon "Stabat mater dolorosa" ("The Mother stood sorrowfully"). Little is known of Browne but that he is the best-represented composer in the famed Eton Choirbook, the richest source of English music before the 16th century. "Stabat mater dolorosa" is an impassioned medieval hymn celebrating the emotions of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross. Browne brilliantly captures the moods of this vivid text in his 6-voice setting.
Robert White's 5-voice setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah was apparently intended for devotional use in homes rather than for the liturgy. Here as well, the vivid text is captured perfectly by the composer. At the end of the manuscript copy of White's Lamentations, the scribe added, "Not even the words of the gloomy prophet sound so sad as the sad music of my composer."
John Sheppard's riveting setting of the Compline antiphon "Media vita in morte sumus" ("In the midst of life, we are in death") is one of the largest-scale compositions of the entire 16th-century and may have been composed in memory of Nicholas Ludford, Sheppard's colleague and fellow parishioner at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Ludford died of flu in the summer of 1557, a victim of the epidemic of 1557-59, the deadliest to hit London since the Black Death. Recently described as "soul-searching," Sheppard's "Media vita" transcends centuries and continues to resonate with listeners today.
Robert White: Christe qui lux es et dies I
John Sheppard: In pace in idipsum
Sheppard: In manus tuas I
Robert White: Christe qui lux es et dies IV
John Browne: Stabat mater
White: Lamentations a 5
Thomas Tallis: Salvator mundi I & II
Sheppard: Media vita in morte sumus
ABOUT THE COMPOSERS
Composers White, Tallis, and Sheppard all shared a London connection. Even the shadowy John Browne, about whom we know little, was known in London in his time as one of the country's foremost composers.
Robert White, born in London and educated at Cambridge, worked at the cathedrals in Ely and Chester before becoming organist and master of the choristers at London's Westminster Abbey in 1570. White died of the plague in 1574, leaving his wife and three children. His will directed he be buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster, "near unto my children," likely referring to his choristers. White was held in high esteem during his lifetime. One manuscript containing his music bears a tribute in Latin that translates, "Thou, O White, greatest glory of our muses, dost perish, but thy muse endures for ever."
Thomas Tallis, one of the greatest English composers of any age, worked under four British monarchs. For many years, Tallis was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as organist and composer. He married his wife Joan in 1552 and died in 1585 at the ripe old age of 80. His colleague William Byrd's musical elegy on the death of Tallis, his colleague and mentor, concludes with the line, "Tallis is dead, and music dies."
John Sheppard was master of the choristers at Magdalen College, Oxford and also a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. His riveting setting of the Compline antiphon "Media vita in morte sumus" ("In the midst of life, we are in death") may have been composed in memory of Nicholas Ludford, Sheppard's colleague and fellow parishioner at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Ludford died of flu in the summer of 1557, a victim of the epidemic of 1557-59, the deadliest to hit London since the Black Death. Sheppard would meet the same fate as his colleague the next year, in December 1558, shortly before the coronation of Elizabeth I.
The Tudor Choir's 2012-2013 subscription series is co-presented by the Tudor Choir and Blessed Sacrament Church.
Blessed Sacrament Church (View)
5041 - 9th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98105
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