Concert Programmes

Following is a selection of our concert programmes, some of which are also available on CD. David Skinner can also provide tailor-made programmes to suit any theme or interest from the period c.1400 to c.1700. All performances include accessible chat and historical anecdotes by Alamire’s director, David Skinner. Please contact [email protected] for further information and updates.

The York Masses & Songs from the Ritson Manuscript

(DS, 4 or more singers & gothic harp)
The York Masses & Songs from the Ritson Manuscript. The York Masses, recovered in the 1950s, are the last substantial body of late medieval English music to be edited and performed in modern times. This is a sumptuous collection of music between the time of the Old Hall Manuscript and the Eton Choirbook. The Ritson Manuscript contains a great number of secular and sacred songs from the same period and, again, is the most important source of English vernacular music from the latter 15th century. This programme of 'Sacred & Profane' offers a sampling of delights from one of the most inventive periods in English musical history.

William of York

The Trinity Carol Roll

(DS, 4 or more singers, gothic harp, lute & vielle)
The Trinity Carol Roll (from Trinity College, Cambridge) is the earliest source of the English polyphonic carol. The 13 works in this manuscript include the famous ‘Agincourt’ carol, celebrating Henry V’s victory, and much-loved and performed ‘There is no rose’. The performances offer a fresh take on medieval instrumentation. Alamire recorded the entire roll in the Wren Library at Trinity College in September 2011.

Holy Trinity (Pala della Convertite)

The Genius of Early Josquin: Missa D'ung aultre amer, Motets & Chansons

(DS, 8 or more singers & gothic harp)
Josquin Desprez is widely recognized as the greatest of the Renaissance master musicians. He set the standard for the various compositional techniques borrowed and utilized by most composers of his generation and beyond, and became famous as an iconic figure whose art captivated musicians and scholars for centuries. This programme centres around Josquin’s earliest works, and, in particular, his fascination with the D’ung aultre amer rondeau composed by his teacher Johannes Ockeghem. Also included are some of his most popular motets and chansons performed by Clare Wilkinson and Andrew Lawrence-King.

CD Josquin

Henry's Music

(DS, 10 or more singers & gothic harp)
On 24 June 1509 Henry Tudor was crowned the eighth English king of that name. His early reign was seen by all as a new Golden Age, full of opulence, splendour, majesty and harmony. While Henry’s reputation is today largely that of the tyrant, in the first 20 years of his reign we was perhaps one of the greatest royal patrons of the musical arts in all of Europe. This programme, produced in conjunction with the various ‘Henry at 500’ celebrations held in 2009, contains music written for Henry and by Henry. Voices and instruments combine to offer a fitting tribute to England’s most musical king.

CD Henry

L'homme arme: a battle cry for Rome from three giants of the Papal Chapel

(DS & 8 or more singers)
The L'homme arme ('armed man') melody was set in over 40 mass cycles from the mid 15th century to the end of the 17th, and was used as a model to show technical prowess in composition. In this concert Alamire explores composers of three contrasting generations who, variously during their lives, were members of the Papal Chapel: Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), Josquin Desprez (c.1450-1521), and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525/6-1594). The programme will include their settings of the L'homme arme Mass as well as works specifically composed by each for the Papal Chapel.

L'homme arme

‘For every syllable a note’: Music & the Reformation in England

(DS & 10 or more singers)
This programme charts the development of English composition from the great pre-Reformation works of John Taverner, Robert Fayrfax and others to music for the first English prayerbook of 1549 to the restored Catholic church under Mary Tudor. The music of Thomas Tallis, John Sheppard and Robert White serves to illustrate the birth of England’s musical Renaissance. This programme showcases some of the most sumptuous motes of the 16th century, as presented in the Edition Peters Anthology of English Church Music, newly edited by David Skinner.

Edward VI

Philippe Verdelot: Madrigals & Motets for a Tudor King

(DS, 8 or more singers & lute)
Philippe Verdelot was the most important composer of Italian madrigals in the early 16th century and recognized as the the greatest innovator of the genre. A Frenchman, he occupied several important musical posts in Italy, including the Florentine posts of maestro di cappella at the Baptistry of S. Maria del Fiore and the great Duomo itself. In the mid 1520s, during his time in Florence, a set of part-books were assembled, probably under Verdelot's supervision, for the court of Henry VIII. Most, if not all, of the works were composed by Verdelot. This the first recording of the complete madrigals in the collection, which stands not only as the most exceptional of diplomatic musical gifts but is also an important source for the history of the early madrigal.

CD Verdelot

Thomas Tallis & William Byrd: Cantiones Sacrae, 1575

(DS & 8 or more singers)
In 1575 Thomas Tallis, then an ‘aged man’, and his pupil and friend William Byrd, who was in his mid to late 30s, paid tribute to Elizabeth I by selecting 17 motets each for their Cantiones Sacrae (‘Sacred Songs’), the first major printed collection of music to be published in England. Many of these works have since become staple in the repertoire of church and chamber choirs throughout the world.

CD Cantiones