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"Upheld by Stillness": William Byrd and his echoes on today's music

ORA Singers, Suzi Digby
1 CD
    • Apple Music

    If the Renaissance can justifiably lay claim to being a golden age for choral music I have long believed that we are currently in a new glittering age of both choral writing and performing. Throughout the world choral standards are ever on the increase and twenty-first-century composers are responding to this by writing exciting and challenging material for choirs, both amateur and professional. Having spent much of my working life in education I have seen this transition from both near and far, and when the opportunity came to form ORA, alongside my management team, I felt it was too good an opportunity to miss to work with some of the UK’s finest consort singers, whilst also contributing to the continuing legacy of choral music. I wanted to set a challenge to the composers we approached to respond to some of the great masterworks from Renaissance times, and to find out how they would individually reflect on these pieces. For this recording we chose to focus on that towering figure of the English music scene, William Byrd. Starting the recording with an original Renaissance reflection, Byrd’s pairing of his own music to Philippe de Monte’s setting of verses from Psalm 136 (Vulgate) – one of the most remarkable exchanges in musical history – we centre on his peerless Mass for Five Voices. We asked Roxanna Panufnik, Francis Pott, Alexander L’Estrange, Owain Park and Charlotte Bray to set their own reactions to the individual movements and we are delighted with the varied responses we got – showing the universality of Byrd’s sacred music and its relevance to today’s musicians. We imposed no restrictions, other than length, on our chosen composers in order to gain their truest reactions. The recording closes with possibly Byrd’s most famous work, his setting of the text of Ave verum corpus, and we asked the multi-talented musician Roderick Williams to write a setting on the same text. I am so grateful to him, and to all the composers of these wonderful new works, and hope you will be equally entertained and enlightened.
    Suzi Digby OBE

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    • Philippe de Monte
    • Roxanna Panufnik
    • Francis Pott
    • Alexander L’Estrange
    • Owain Park
    • Charlotte Bray
    • Roderick Willliams


    PHILIPPE DE MONTE [1521-1603]
    · Super flumina Babylonis (4'46)
    WILLIAM BYRD [1543-1623]
    · Quomodo cantabimus (7'02)
    Mass for five voices
    · I. Kyrie (1'30)
    · II. Gloria (5'04)
    · III. Credo (9'16)
    · IV. Sanctus and Benedictus (3'39)
    · V. Agnus Dei (3'39)
    · Kyrie after Byrd (3'44)
    · Laudate Dominum (6'00)
    · Show me, deare Christ (13'10)
    · Upheld by stillness (6'54)
    · Agnus Dei (4'40)
    WILLIAM BYRD [1543-1623]
    · Ave verum corpus (3'34)
    · Ave verum corpus Re-imagined (5'46)

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