a cappella SSATTB choir
A reflection on the Byrd 5-part mass. For Suzi Digby and the singers of Ora.
Instrumentation a cappella SSATTB choir
First Performance 9 & 10 February 2016, Tower of London; Ora under Suzi Digby
Commissioned by Suzi Digby
Recording Upheld by Stillness Release Date: 12 February 2016
Charlotte has a worldwide, exclusive publishing agreement with Birdsong
1.10.16 Kings Place, London; Equator Festival: Women of the World, Invicta Upper Voices & Invicta Voices
6.07.16 Cutty Sark, Royal Museums Greenwich, London; The London Oriana Choir, Dominic Peckham (conductor)
19.03.23 Church of St Michael, Milverton, Taunton TA4 1JS; Collegium Singers, Elinor Cooper (conductor)
15.04.23 Orford Church, Front St, Orford, IP12 2LN; Aldeburgh Voices, Dominic Ellis-Peckham (conductor)
The beauty and tranquility of the Agnus Dei in Byrd’s five part mass is most striking. The sensual language feels almost as if one is listening in on a private conversation. Its strength lies in its simplicity and in the incredible clarity it maintains through the gradual unfolding to the magnificent climax of the piece.
A fragment of Byrd’s theme was taken as the starting point for Bray’s Agnus Dei. Harmonically, the piece is built on tone clusters, which were constructed from a germ of the harmonic language of the Byrd. His structure also influenced Bray; he first uses three voices; then four; and finally all five. Bray opts for three clear sections- soprano’s and alto’s, tenor’s and bass’s (with the addition of soprano 1), before the whole ensemble is finally heard together for the third climactic section.