Mu­sic to our ears

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

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 (

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.ob­sid­i­an­ in Novem­ber.

Born sur­vivor: a motet by Tal­lis and Kather­ine Parr will be per­formed for the first time in 450 years

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