The Cambridge Taverner Choir

It's just a month to go now until the second of our Gabrieli concerts, From Venice to Dresden, on Sunday 18th March, performed by the Cambridge Taverner Choir with a fabulous group of Baroque instrumentalists.

The choir recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, with a concert in the Cambridge Summer Festival. The picture shows the them rehearsing for a performance of Monteverdi's Vespers, in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2008. Thanks to the devoted librarianship of its Secretary, every performance the choir has given can be reviewed online in the choir archive.

A founding principle of the Cambridge Taverner Choir has been to apply academic rigour and historical context to all performances. The very first concert took place in Tattershall church in Lincolnshire, and featured a reconstruction of a complete mass with the Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas by John Taverner, who was a member of the college at Tattershall in the early sixteenth century.

The choir's director, Dr Owen Rees, is now Fellow and Director of Music at The Queen’s College, Oxford.  Together, he and the choir have released four recordings. A further CD, of music by Monteverdi, will come out later this year.


Gabrieli in the snow

The first flakes of the promised snow fell as the choir and instrumentalists made their way into church for last night's concert. Thankfully, not too many people seemed to have opted to stay at home, and the church was full with an expectant and enthusiastic audience!

Many thanks to Charles Vignoles, the Temenos Chamber Choir, and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble for a vigorous and joyful rendition of one, two, three and four-choir motets, madrigals and instrumental canzonas to celebrate Gabrieli. The choir has many years' experience of singing early music, which was evident in the confidence and intelligence of their performance.

In the slightly dated copies of one of the motets, the editor Denis Stevens, writing in 1970, noted that "problems of balance inevitably occur when modern brass instruments are substituted for the composer's cornetti and trombones, which in his day and age had a relatively soft and soothing tone". Thankfully, nowadays it is not necessary to follow Stevens' recommendation of deploying oboes instead! The English Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble are one of the country's foremost exponents of early Baroque music, and they brought with them a full band - cornetts, a 'lizard' (a longer, alto cornett, so called because of its double-curved shape), alto, tenor and bass sackbuts (trombones), violin and viola, curtal (a precursor to the bassoon) and organ, which was played magnificently by Duncan Aspden.

An ensemble of much the same instruments will be present for the second of our Gabrieli concerts, on 18 March, From Venice to Dresden. They will accompany the Cambridge Taverner Choir in music by Gabrieli and Sch├╝tz. If you attended or missed the first concert, we are delighted to offer you a second chance to be immersed in the music of this glorious period. Discounts are available for early booking.