Music to our ears
ANEWLY discovered work by Thomas Tallis, with lyrics written by Katherine Parr, will be performed for the first time in 450 years, on Good Friday (April 14) at St John’s Smith Square, London SW1 (www.sjss.org.uk).
Music for the motet Gaude gloriosa was discovered behind plasterwork in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1978, but it was only recently that the words were found to have been written by Henry VIII’S sixth and final wife. The lyrics come from Parr’s psalm paraphrase ‘Against Enemies’ in her first publication Psalms or Prayers, published in 1544 in tandem with Thomas Cranmer’s Litany, which was momentous as the first departure from the Roman rite in Henry VIII’S reign.
The exciting discovery was made by Dr David Skinner, who founded and directs Alamire, the choir that will perform the motet’s debut as part of the Holy Week Festival. ‘These discoveries are not only significant for cultural historians, but also fundamentally challenge our perceptions of Tallis’s music and chronology, which have hitherto been fixed in their essentials for nearly half a century,’ says Dr Skinner. ‘We also have new insight into the role of a Tudor queen in Henry’s Court politics. The musical Reformation seems to have come to England somewhat earlier than anticipated.’ He adds: ‘Many fascinating avenues for further research, both musicological and historical, have opened up for the years to come.’ As well as the performance on Good Friday, the work will be recorded in Arundel Castle, West Sussex, in May and released on CD by Obsidian Records (www.obsidianrecords.co.uk) in November.
Born survivor: a motet by Tallis and Katherine Parr will be performed for the first time in 450 years