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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tallis at the Villa de Matel

On Sunday night I attended a concert by the Houston Chamber Choir featuring the music of Thomas Tallis. The concert was part of a Symposium on Tallis in honor of the 500th Anniversary of his birth.

The concert was led by Peter Phillips the founder of the Tallis Scholars. The concert was held at the Chapel of the Villa de Matel which is one of Houston's best kept architectural secrets. The acoustics of this magnificent space were a perfect setting for the English Renaissance music featured in the concert.

The concert consisted of:

Spem in Alium
excerpts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah
If ye love me
Hear the voice and prayer
O nata lux
and In manus tuas - all in settings by Tallis

The concert also featured works by other English Renaissance composers including:

Haec dies and Ne irascaris - William Byrd
Domine quis habitabit - Robert Parsons
Christe qui lux es - Robert White
and Verbum caro factum est - John Sheppard

Of course the main feature of the concert was the legendary 40 part motet Spem in Alium. This piece is only rarely performed given the difficulty and number of accomplished singers required. It was certainly the first time I had ever heard the piece performed live. Fortunately the concert both began and ended with this piece. The second performance of this motet was thrilling with the massed choir, including members of the Concert Chorale of the University of Houston, reaching otherworldly heights of sound in the Chapel's acoustics.

I also really enjoyed the Lamentations of Jeremiah which has always been my favorite work of Tallis. I had forgotten that Tallis also set texts in English and so the setting of If ye love me was especially powerful.

I even ran into a few of my old college profs after the concert and was pleasantly surprised that they still remembered me. : )

A review of the concert can be read here.

A selection of excellent recordings of the music of Tallis can be found here.


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