Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876): Who can express the noble acts of the Lord? – Paul Phoenix soloist

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley (1766–1837) and his housekeeper, Sarah Suter, the Sebastian part of his name is in honour of Johann Sebastian Bach whose music his father loved. Despite the stigma of being illegitimate –  which was an almost insurmountable obstacle in late nineteenth century,  Britain he became…

Shenandoah -The Choir of New College, Oxford

How about we start the week with a song? I’ve always loved "Shenandoah" which apparently originated with French voyageurs traveling down the Missouri River. It tells the story of a trader who fell in love with Shenandoah the daughter of an Algonquian chief. The song as we know it now comes from American sailors who…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Most clere of colour

When we think of English renaissance sung music we tend to think in terms of the large-scale polyphonic music written for cathedrals, colleges, and the Chapel Royal. Certainly this music is worthy of our fullest attention but it would be a mistake to ignore the chamber-song repertory of the time. Much of it is both…

Henry VIII – Grene growith the holy

Given how closely it follows the carol form I think it’s safe to assume that ‘Grene growith the holy’ (Green grows the holly) was composed for Christmas celebrations. Only the burden’s music (the refrain) has come down to us so an anonymous  tune from the manuscript of Henry’s compositions is generally used for the verses.…

Maria durch ein Dornwald ging

Over the years I’ve posted several choral versions of this extraordinarily beautiful late medieval German carol but there are of course many beautiful solo renditions of it available such as this one by the Freiburg Early Music Channel. If you’re not familiar with it you’re in for a treat, actually you’re in for a treat…