Polyhymnia: Hymns & Responds for the Sarum Rite - Music of John Taverner, Thomas Tallis, and John Sheppard

Friday, February 28, 2014

John Bradley, Conductor

Time:              8 pm

                        Pre-Concert Lecture 7 pm, Mr. Emerson Morgan


Tickets:          $25 – General Admission

                        $15 – Students, Seniors & Early Music America (EMA) Members



Polyhymnia will present a concert of music composed for the Divine Office from Tudor England. During the early 16th century the musical emphasis in the English Church shifted to include and even emphasize the creation of polyphonic hymns and responses for the daily offices of Matins and Vespers, particularly on Feast Days. The Respond, invented by John Taverner during the reign of Henry VIII, remains an exclusively English musical form. Like the Responds, the Office Hymns employ chant alternating with polyphony which derive from the melodic and textural forms unique to the English Sarum Rite, and are found only in English manuscript sources. These unique choral compositions, ranging from five to eight vocal parts, enjoyed a glorious revival during the brief reign of Mary I (1553-1558). During and after this time, composers like Thomas Tallis and John Sheppard took over where Taverner left off leaving a small but glorious legacy of compositions such as Dum transisset sabbatum, Loquebantur variis linguis, and Verbum caro. This is the culmination of music for the Catholic Rite in England, and was unparalleled in Renaissance Europe. Though much of the music was lost during the religious unrest of the 16th and subsequent centuries, this small but exquisite body of work invites the listener into a lost world of elegant music and dramatic liturgical expression.


About the Ensemble:

Polyhymnia creates vibrant, historically informed performances of music from the courts and cathedrals of the Renaissance world. Working with museums and libraries, liturgical historians and educational institutions, Polyhymnia preserves and revives masterworks of the choral literature composed in Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 and 1650. Since 2000, Artistic Director John Bradley has been preparing original editions of music for the ensemble in repertoire including numerous modern premiers of works which have remained unperformed since the 16th century.


Polyhymnia’s three concerts are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.