Acclaimed British Choir Gallicantus Makes North American Debut at Middlebury College
August 4, 2014
November 10 Recital Features 16th-Century Works by Sheppard, Byrd, and Tallis
Middlebury, VT—The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series presents the acclaimed British choir Gallicantus in their North American debut on November 10. The six-member early music ensemble will perform a glorious program of works by John Sheppard, William Byrd, and Thomas Tallis, including Tallis’s Lamentations. Audiences will enjoy sublime harmonies that evoke the sacred sounds of the 16th century.
Dedicated to renaissance music and directed by Gabriel Crouch, Gallicantus boasts a wealth of experience in consort singing, drawn from such legendary vocal groups as Tenebrae, The Tallis Scholars, and The King’s Singers. Gallicantus members are bound by a shared love of communicating text, and create performances which draw out unifying themes within apparently diverse repertoire: To this end they are as meticulous about providing context and insight for audiences as they are about crafting interpretations of the music they love.
The group’s name, which literally means “rooster song,” comes from monastic antiquity for the office held just before dawn—a ceremony which evokes the renewal of life offered by the coming day.
James Altena of Fanfare Magazine remarked, “England is blessed with a multitude of fine early music ensembles, but this one immediately rises to the forefront with the best of them. I cannot recall having ever heard an ensemble of this sort sing with such perfect balance and clarity that I could clearly understand and distinguish the words of each vocal line.”
The ensemble released its first disc on Signum Classics in 2009, dedicated to the music of Robert White. Critics called it an “impressive debut” (Observer) of “impassioned, exciting music” (The Times), whilst Gramophone magazine declared, “What an outstanding disc… The opening of the Lamentations could stand as a kind of illuminated initial at the beginning of a gorgeous manuscript, so transparent and luminous is it.” In 2010, Gallicantus released the recording “Dialogues of Sorrow—Passions on the Death of Prince Henry (1612).” A subsequent BBC radio program with Gallicantus, historians Tristram Hunt and Roy Strong, and musicologist Sally Dunkley was based on the music inspired by this significant historical event.
A highlight of Gallicantus’ concert at Middlebury will be composer Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations. Scholar David Vernier notes “The two sets of Lamentations are supreme among Tallis’ longer works, exhibiting full mastery of choral part-writing and effective use of harmonic and textural contrast. The outward solemnity of these works is sustained by the music’s underlying impassioned, penitential mood.”
Gallicantus will perform at Middlebury College’s Mead Memorial Chapel on Saturday, November 10, 2012, at 8:00 P.M. The Chapel is located at 75 Hepburn Road, accessible from Route 125/College Street. Free parking is available. Tickets are $20 for the general public; $15 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and parents; and $6 for Middlebury College students. This concert is a general admission event. For tickets, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://go.middlebury.edu/tickets.