Posts Tagged ‘sacred music’

The Queen of Heaven

April 20, 2013
The Sixteen - Croydon Minster

The Sixteen – Croydon Minster

Croydon is pretty dire, therefore I went via Guildford for lunch at the Guildford Institute, then on to Croydon.

On coming off the station, a huge tower block. What I assume to be the UK headquarters of the evil Nestlé Empire, whose boss thinks NGOs that advocate water for people as a human right are extremest organisations and peddles infant formula milk in the Third World

Walking through Croydon is dire. It is as though one has been transposed against ones will to the Third World. I walked down a side street where a market was packing up for the day. The smell was as though I was in the Third World.

I was on my way to Croydon Minster where The Sixteen were to play, part of their Choral Pilgrimage 2013.

I had intended to arrive at seven o’clock if not before to get a decent seat. But thanks to the appalling service at an American Diner I did not arrive until 7-15, to find the place was packed. But I was in luck, I managed to bag a half decent seat.

I picked up a couple of CDs with the music for the tour, which Harry Christophers kindly signed. As thanks I gave him The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of The Pilgrimage, and last year was published a special collectors edition. Last year saw the 25th anniversary for The Sixteen of their choral pilgrimage. This year sees the 25th anniversary of The Alchemist, and to mark the occasion, a special collectors edition has been published.

The start of the concert with Palestrina was very clever and very effective. Part of the group at the front, followed by others singing as they walked to the front from the choir stalls. Very moving and brought tears to the eyes.

Miserere by Allegri was something of a disappointment. The group splits in two. Voices from a balcony, would have been great, but buried in the choirs stalls, obstructed by the mass of the building does not work. It may have worked for those on one side of the church who maybe had line of sight, but it certainly did not work for those sitting on the other side of the church. It probably sounded perfect from where Harry Christopher was conducting.

Music by MacMillan was one big mistake. Even stood on its own, it would have been flat, lacking in soul, but back to back with Palestrina and Allegri, was going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Finishing with MacMillan was an even bigger mistake. It was to end on a low not a high. At times harsh, a noise, but just plain ugly. It made no use of the acoustics of the building.

This is like The Proms including rap.

After the concert had finished, a prayer card writ, a candle lit, for my lovely friend Annie who is not well.

Walking through Croydon at night is not a pleasant experience. I hate to think what it is like late at night.

A train to Gatwick, then a train from Gatwick. A long walk home.

On the train from Gatwick, entertained by a couple of teenage girls who decided to dance for me.

Sacred Music: The Story of Allegri’s Miserere

December 8, 2011

Around 1630, Pope Urban VIII heard Allegri’s Miserere for the first time. He was so moved that he decreed that it could not be heard outside the Sistine Chapel, it could only be heard once a year during Holy Week. Anyone who disobeyed would be excommunicated.

Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), an Italian composer of the Roman School, priest and singer, and brother of Domenico Allegri, was born in Rome. He grew up under the influence of Palestrina.

A century and a half later, the teenage Mozart heard Miserere (by now the fame of Miserere had spread and everyone wished to be in the Sistine Chapel), and from two visits to the Sistine chapel was able to note down what he had heard. Word of this spread and soon reached the ears of Pope Clements XIV. Mozart was summoned to Pope Clements XIV in the full expectation that he would be excommunicated. Instead, Pope XIV Clements congratulated him. Copies of the transcript by Mozart spread across Europe like wildfire.

Over the next 200 years more and more elaborate versions moving further and further away from the original.

A runaway best seller was recorded in 1963 by King’s College Cambridge.

Founder of The Sixteen Harry Christophers has put together a much simpler version based on two manuscripts in the Vatican, which he belives is closest to the original.

Two choirs, a main choir and a quartet.

Performed by early music group The Sixteen, founded and directed by Harry Christophers.

Sacred Music: The Story of Allegri’s Miserere
The Sixteen – Miserere Mei Deus – Allegri
St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen
Hail, Mother of the Redeemer

Sacred music

December 1, 2011

A BBC Four series featuring The Sixteen.

The Sixteen are an early music group with associated orchestra founded and directed by Harry Christophers.

The Sixteen – Miserere Mei Deus – Allegri
St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen
Hail, Mother of the Redeemer

The Sixteen – Miserere Mei Deus – Allegri

November 27, 2011

Miserere, full name “Miserere mei, Deus” (trans: “Have mercy on me, O God”) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri, is a setting of Psalm 51 (Greek numbering: Psalm 50), it begins Have mercy on me, O God, composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. The service would start usually around 3am, and during the ritual, candles would be extinguished, one by one, until one remained alight and hidden. Allegri composed his setting of the Miserere for the final act within the first lesson of the Tenebrae service. Ash Wednesday marking Christ’s return to Jerusalem.

Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo munda me.
Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco: et peccatum meum contra me est semper.
Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum judicaris.
Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.
Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.
Ne proiicias me a facie tua: et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.
Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui: et spiritu principali confirma me.
Docebo iniquos vias tuas: et impii ad te convertentur.
Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae: et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.
Domine, labia mea aperies: et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.
Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis.
Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.
Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem.
Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), an Italian composer of the Roman School, priest and singer, and brother of Domenico Allegri. He is best known for Miserere mei, Deus, a setting of Vulgate Psalm 50 (Greek Psalm 51), written for two choirs, one of five voices and the other of four voices.

Performed by early music group The Sixteen, founded and directed by Harry Christophers.

Music of indescribable beauty, almost unbearable to listen to.

Sacred Music: The Story of Allegri’s Miserere
St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen
Hail, Mother of the Redeemer

St James Cathedral – Victoria – The Sixteen

November 18, 2011

Visual of St James Cathedral Seattle set to music by Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria the Lamentations of Job (Job 10: 1-7) performed The Sixteen.

I’m a filmmaker in Seattle, Washington and I shot this footage of the St James Cathedral during the Spring of 2010 around Easter. It was originally B-Roll for a documentary on the afterlife I didn’t use. I’m also working very hard to get my BFA in film production.

Over the Holidays a friend introduced me to Pandora Radio, which is where, for the first time, I heard the heavenly sounds of Harry Christohers & The Sixteen. I felt like my spirit was flying and it was this very song Taedet animam meam, that enraptured me. Their interpretation of this work I feel is so pure ad perfect.

It was authored in 1605 by Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria. It’s in Latin from the Officium Defunctorum and the translation is Job’s (Job 10: 1-7) Lament to God asking why he was being treated so unfairly:

I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why thou dost contend against me. Does it seem good to thee to oppress, to despise the work of thy hands and favor the designs of the wicked?

It was after I heard the Sixteen’s version of this amazing piece of Renaissance Choral music that I immediately started cutting this passion piece wanting to communicate this experience.

I did it as a thanks to The Sixteen for such wonderful sounds that helped to release some long held sorrows, but also as a thanks to the staff of the St. James Cathedral for letting me film inside it’s incredibly opulent and powerful walls.

This is a gift to those groups. I’m not making any money of the project and it has no monetary value.

Later I’ll post a video on how visual FX came in handy during the making of this project, which, I did alone with no crew or help from anyone.

About 60 hours of passion went into creating this project making sure everything was right. The Panasonic HVX200 P2 HD is the camera I used and it’s very limited in low light situations.

The 15 ft Easter candle was the greatest challenge. I loved this shot but it was so under lit you couldn’t see the amazing brass base So, I put the clip in a program called Maya (which was also used for the movie AVATAR) to create a second brass texture which I composted in Adobe After effects. It was an immense amount of work but very rewarding.

Listening to this music and seeing the imagery of St James Cathedral Seattle one can easily understand the impact it must have had four centuries ago.

The Sixteen have recently been touring the cathedrals in England, or what they call a choral pilgrimage, performing the music of Tomas Luis de Victoria.

Hail, Mother of the Redeemer

The Sixteen are a small early music choral group founded by Harry Christopher with associated orchestra.

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) composer, priest, scholar, mystic and organist.

Top story Music Daily (Friday 18 November 2011).

Tomas Luis De Victoria – Composer of the Week – BBC Radio 3
Discovering Music – 16th Century Polyphony

Hail, Mother of the Redeemer

October 31, 2011
Hail, Mother of the Redeemer - The Sixteen

Hail, Mother of the Redeemer - The Sixteen

Hail, Mother of the Redeemer, music by Tomás Luis de Victoria, performed by The Sixteen (sadly without founder and director Harry Christophers) at Guildford Cathdral.

The musc was sublime, on a par with Hildegard von Bingen, who said she was a feather on the breath of God.

I thought Guildford Cathedral would be far too big. I was proved wrong, I was sat in the nave about a third of the way from the front and I was probabably in a perfect position, excellent acoustics.

The Cathedral was packed.

Coro, the record label of The Sixteen was on hand with around half a dozen recordings on offer. I picked up a copy of Hail, Mother of the Redeemer, recorded last year at All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London. I now regret I did not pick up a copy for my lovely Russian friend Polina.

The Sixteen are a small early music choral group founded by Harry Christopher with associated orchestra.

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) composer, priest, scholar, mystic and organist.

Guildford Cathedral is currently celebrating 50 years.

Tomas Luis De Victoria – Composer of the Week – BBC Radio 3
Discovering Music – 16th Century Polyphony