About the workshop repertoire

The Music
All music will be provided on the day, free of charge, with the option of purchasing the Byrd, Tallis and Song of Songs texts from Stile Antico at the workshop. Click here for a list of the pieces from which the repertoire will be drawn.

Music by Tallis and Byrd In 1575 Queen Elizabeth I granted a monopoly on music publishing to the two greatest composers of her day: Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. As a result, Byrd and Tallis published Cantiones Sacrae, a volume containing some of their finest works, and dedicated it to the Queen. We will sample motets from this book, as well as works from the two subsequent books published by Byrd alone, after Tallis’ death. The motets are particularly interesting for the texts chosen by both composers, often revealing a strong support for the recusant Catholic community whose faith had been outlawed by the Protestant Queen.

Settings of texts from The Song of Songs The erotic poetry of the Biblical Song of Solomon consistently inspired the masters of the Continental Renaissance to some of their most ardent music. Love, desire and seduction are explored in a rich selection of motets by composers from the Low Countries to the Mediterranean, with many works treading a fine line between the sacred and the profane.

The English Madrigal The emergence of a musically literate middle-class in the sixteenth century inspired a new musical form - the madrigal. England was late to join the craze that was sweeping Europe; a national school of madrigal writing was only initiated by the publication in 1588 of Musica Transalpina, a selection of Italian madrigals set to English texts. The forty-year period after this publication saw all the English major composers of the day contributing some of their finest works to the genre. We will look at works by, among others, Thomas Weelkes, Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Morley.