Invitations to festivals and competitions overseas give choirs like The Tudor Consort an oppportunity to perform our specialist early repertoire in ancient venues across Europe. This is important for a choir like The Tudor Consort because performing Renaissance music in these atmospheric European venues gives us an opportunity to connect with the repertoire in a special way that is not always achievable in the very nice but comparatively modern venues available in a young country like New Zealand.
The Tudor Consort has toured overseas three times: first to Britain in 1988 under founding director Simon Ravens, and more recently in 2003 and 2005 to Europe. This recording captures some of the highlights of the 2005 performances in Spain and Italy. In Spain the choir attended the 37th International Choral Competition in Tolosa. This competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe. It is one of six competitions that feed into the European Grand Prix of Choral Singing. The choir won two awards at this competition in 2003 and returned in 2005 to experience again both the competition and, more importantly, the wonderful concert series that brackets the competition. For 10 days around the competition, the choirs visiting Tolosa perform evening recitals in a variety of ancient venues across the Basque Country. Our concerts took us from San Sebastian in the Bay of Biscay to Borja in Aragon. The first set of pieces on this recording are taken from the choir’s performance in Ordizia, a small town near Tolosa, on Wednesday 2 November 2005. The Parroquial Church in Ordizia is a beautiful stone church nestled in the heart of the town.
After completing the events at the Tolosa Competition, the choir travelled to Austria and Italy to take advantage of some invitations that had arisen since the first trip in 2003. The Tudor Consort sang masses in Rome at Santa Maria Maggiore and St Peter’s Basilica – key venues where Palestrina spent much of his working life – and performed concerts in Salzburg and in Rome. The concert in Rome was at the beautiful baroque church of Madonna dei Monti. Here, The Tudor Consort appeared with the support of The Palestrina Foundation, an important Italian early music performance society. The second set of pieces on this recording are taken from this concert at Madonna dei Monti on Tuesday 8 November.
The final track on this recording was captured in New Zealand in 2006. In a very interesting project at the start of the year, the gentlemen of The Tudor Consort worked together to rehearse and perform a Latin Lamentations sequence entirely with men’s voices. (Normally, the The Tudor Consort sings with mixed male and female voices, as you can hear in all the other pieces on this disc.) The sonorities and textures that result from the exclusive use of male voices create a subtly different sound world that releases the latent expressiveness of Alfonso Ferrabosco’s third Lamentation sequence in a powerfully dramatic way. The gentlemen performed the Lamentations on Good Friday at Wellington Cathedral; they reunited a fortnight later in the Hall of Memories at the National War Memorial to sing the piece again, purely for enjoyment’s sake. The recording on this disc was captured at that second performance.
This recording was prepared for The Tudor Consort’s 20th anniversary.