Features

Documentary: British Shanties and Sea Songs – Gareth Malone

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January 12, 2014

In this unmissable documentary from the Beeb Gareth Malone who's best known for his work with choirs goes exploring an unfamiliar aspect of British musical history. Enjoy :-).
markfromireland

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Feature: Mouton & Morales — Quæramus cum pastoribus

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December 29, 2013

stomer-adorationofshepherds Mouton's beautiful Christmastide motet 'Quæramus cum pastoribus' – the name comes from its first line 'Quæramus cum pastoribus verbum incarnatum' (Let us, with the shepherds, seek the incarnate word) was a wildly popular piece of music that spread like wildfire throughout Catholic Christendom, there are copies of it to be found in churches and cathedrals ranging from the Sistine Chapel to Guatemalan frontier missions. Nor was this popularity confined to the public,  Mouton's fellow composers greatly admired it and used as the basis both for parody Masses (Morales and Willaert) and for motets  (Crecquillon, Pedro de Cristo and Giovanni Croce). It's not hard to see why it was so popular and influential it's a bright and airy piece of music set for a four-part choir and its dialogues are a brilliant mix of very tightly written polyphony into which Mouton injected very rich musical variety and some memorably tuneful writing.  It's easy to see why Cristóbal de Morales based a Mass upon it and what a Mass! The 'Missa Quæramus cum pastoribus'  is a wonderfully expansive and sumptuous piece of music in which de Morales takes Mouton's original and transforms it into something that is entirely original and quite wonderful. Let's start with the motet:

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Feature: Kampen Boys Choir — Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in A C.V. Stanford

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November 27, 2013

Kampen choristers getting ready for a concert

One of the advantages of YouTube is that you can come across some very good choirs of whose existence you would otherwise be unaware. One such is the Dutch choir the Kampen Boys Choir about whose excellent performance of Farrant's 'Lord, for Thy tender mercy’s sake' I wrote about last January (see: Richard Farrant (1530 – 1580): Lord, for Thy tender mercy’s sake – Kampen Boys Choir – YouTube).  At the time I intended to write a further posting introducing them and their singing but I'm only now getting around to it. The Kampen Boys Choir were founded in September 2002 and consists of sixteen boys (trebles) and twelve men (countertenors, tenors and basses). Their repertoire is mostly taken from the English choral tradition but they also undertake tours outside of the Netherlands as well as collaborating with other Dutch choirs for example by participating in the performances of Bach's St. Matthew Passion given by the Dutch Bach Society. They're an excellent choir whose clear well-paced singing I've greatly enjoyed listening to I'm sure you will too.

markfromireland

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Feature: Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548 – 1611): Missa pro defunctis a 4

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October 21, 2013

If you search for de Victoria's Masses or you survey the literature dealing with his music you could easily assume that he only ever wrote one Requiem - the one dating from 1605, in fact he wrote two and the 1605 composition owes a very heavy debt to the 1583 one. Whenever I tell people this it almost always comes as a great surprise to them which in turn surprises me.

Tomás Luis de Victoria was a Catholic priest a product of the counter-reformation as it unfolded in Spain. If there is one man whose music epitomises the counter-reformation de Victoria is that man. His illustrious predecessors Francisco Guerrero and Cristóbal de Morales had made notable contributions to the genre, a genre which had been a well-established part of Spanish religious culture since at least the latter part of the Middle Ages. It's not surprising that Victoria wrote more than one setting of the Requiem or the Missa pro defunctis to give it its proper title on the contrary it would have been astonishing if de Victoria had not made the composition of a Missa pro defunctis one of his earliest compositional tasks.

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Feature: Jean Mouton (before 1459-1522): Factum est silentium in caelo

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September 29, 2013

Anne of Brittany arms captioned 325x325Jean Mouton (before 1459–1522) is another one of those renaissance master-musicians whose music receives far less attention than his influence on his contemporaries and subequent generations would suggest. He was born near Samer in the Pas-de-Calais the first record of him is as a chorister in Nesle in 1477 rising to maître de chapelle in 1483, his career consisted of  a variety of posts in provincial cathedrals until 1502 when he joined the chapel of Anne of Brittany

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