09 December 2020

The Sixteen Present A Choral Odyssey

Whether performing a simple medieval hymn or expressing the complex musical and emotional language of a contemporary choral composition, The Sixteen does so with qualities common to all great ensembles. Tonal warmth, rhythmic precision and immaculate intonation are clearly essential to the mix. But it is the courage and intensity with which The Sixteen makes music that speak above all to so many people. The Sixteen gave its first concert in 1979 under the direction of Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers CBE. Their pioneering work since has made a profound impact on the performance of choral music and attracted a large new audience, not least as ‘The Voices of Classic FM’ and through BBC television’s Sacred Music series. The voices and period-instrument players of The Sixteen are at home in over five centuries of music, a breadth reflected in their annual Choral Pilgrimage to Britain’s great cathedrals and sacred spaces, regular appearances at the world’s leading concert halls, and award-winning recordings for The Sixteen’s CORO and other labels. Recent highlights include the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Symphony No. 5 ‘Le grand Inconnu’, commissioned for The Sixteen by the Genesis Foundation, an ambitious ongoing series of Handel oratorios, and a debut tour of China.

The Choral Odyssey features five programmes, exploring sumptuous music and beautiful architecture. Conducted by Harry Christophers CBE and presented by Simon Russell Beale, each episode will take an in-depth look at a wide-ranging selection of choral music in locations relevant to the music and which inform the theme and choice of repertoire.

Russell Beale, in conversation with Christophers, will discuss the socio-religious-political themes surrounding each composition. Christophers will talk through each piece of music providing real insight, using singers from The Sixteen to demonstrate, before performing the works in full. A real voyage of choral discovery, these programmes reunite the winning combination of Russell Beale, Christophers and The Sixteen, a formula that proved so successful and popular for the BBC’s acclaimed series Sacred Music nearly a decade ago.

Harry Christophers commented, ‘What a joy it is to be back doing what The Sixteen do best: making music. In these extraordinary times, we have had to be even more creative than usual, but it is essential that we do not lose sight of our identity. We have missed singing together and being together in person and that is why we are so excited to be performing this glorious music in these stunning locations. I am also delighted to be working with Simon again; we are looking forward to exploring what we have learned about how composers are influenced by architecture as well as the social, political and religious themes of the day. In some cases, the times are not unlike our own. We hope you find as much enjoyment in these programmes as we have had filming them.’

Simon Russell Beale commented: ‘I am delighted to be joining up again with The Sixteen – a group that I have admired for many, many years. It’s a fascinating project for me, not least because I will be able to enjoy the company of Harry Christophers – the best possible guide to this wonderful repertoire of choral music.’

Programme 1: Magdalen College, Oxford.
Davy O Domine caeli terraeque creator
Davy Joan is sick and ill at ease
Sheppard Libera nos
Related CORO Album: COR16119 The Voice of the Turtle Dove

Programme 2:Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, London.
Guerrero Maria Magdalene
Guerrero Credo from Missa de la batalla escoutez
Guerrero Ave virgo sanctissima
Guerrero Lauda Mater ecclesia
Related CORO Album: COR16067 Guerrero: Missa de la batalla escoutez

Programme 3: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe.
True Englishmen drink (catch)
Ode: Sound the trumpet! Beat the drum! (James II 1687)
Now, now the fight’s done (from Theodosius)
Related CORO Album: COR16151 Purcell – Royal Welcome Songs for King James II

Programme 4: Hatfield House, Hatfield.
Byrd Tribue, Domine
Pärt Nunc Dimittis
Pärt The Deer’s Cry
Related CORO Album: COR16140 The Deer’s Cry Programme 5: Penshurst Place, Kent.
Anon Make we joy now in this fest
Anon Angelus ad virginem
Anon Nowell, nowell in Bethlehem
Anon Salutation carol
Anon Sweet was the song
King Henry VIII Green grow’th the holly
Walton Make we joy now in this fest
McDowall Now may we singen
McDowall Of a Rose
Related CORO Album: COR16027 Christus Natus Est

Programme 6 (Christmas Concert): Cadogan Hall, London.
Traditional The truth from above Will Todd My Lord has come Palestrina Rorate caeli Howard Skempton Adam lay ybounden Byrd Rorate caeli Traditional Gabriel’s message Nicholas Allan Jesus’ Christmas Party
plainsong Veni, veni Emmanuel Jonathan Dove I am the Day Traditional Wexford Carol
Lassus Laetentur caeli Ord Adam lay ybounden Byrd Laetentur caeli Clement Clarke Moore The Night before Christmas
Leontovich Carol of the Bells
McDowall Now may we singen
Related CORO Album: COR16146 Song of the Nativity

Tickets are available here (please note that only one ticket is required per household)


The Sixteen Present A Choral Odyssey - Hatfield Park