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Musica Contexta experimenting with a choirbook



Marian Music from the Papal Chapel


Our next concert, on October 27th, marks an exciting new step for Musica Contexta. For the first time, we are throwing away our individual copies of the music, and singing from parts printed in one large choirbook. Why? Well, we want to find out whether there was a reason – other than saving paper – that Renaissance choirs operated in this way. Our experiments with this new format in rehearsal suggest that the tighter physical bond between singers, and a greater sense of shared endeavour, certainly do lead to more committed music-making. We are genuinely excited by this next concert, and look forward to sharing the experience with as many of you as possible. For those interested to read more about the experiment, click here to read Simon Ravens’ recent article in the Early Music Review, ‘Rehearsal Practice’.




As for the music, that too involves some bold new steps for Musica Contexta. The theme of the concert is Marian music by composers of the Sistine Chapel. This offers us a first chance to sing the music of the most seminal of all early Renaissance composers, Dufay, as well as that of his pupil and torchbearer, Josquin. The sequence is continued with music by Festa and Carpentras, and concluded with the subjects of our forthcoming Chandos cd – De Silva, Arcadelt and, of course, Palestrina. Can’t wait!


Dufay: Ave regina coelorum

Josquin: Alma redemptoris mater, Benedicta es


Plus works by Palestrina, Morales and Arcadelt

Wednesday 27 Ocober 2010, 7.30 pm


Hospital of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth, 60 Grove End Road, St John's Wood, London, NW8 9NH



The venue


Our London concert takes place in one of the capital’s hidden architectural jewels – the Conventual Church of Saint John of Jerusalem, in St John's Wood; it is the chapel of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. This magnificent building – a basilica in miniature – was originally built on the site of Great Ormond Street and moved to this site in the 1890s.


For all its luxuriant acoustic, the chapel is an intimate venue. This is ideal for the music in our series programme, most of which was composed not for large cathedral settings, but for private chapels. The church is accessed through the main entrance to the hospital, which is about 100 yards from St. John’s Wood underground station.