A bold fanfare, a feisty Bransle, brought the Writtle Singers up to the transept in a concert opening typical of the sense of the dramatic which informs their programming.
Christine Gwynn had devised a sequence of music to illustrate the life of the Virgin Queen, “a fruitful and rich period” artistically. Each work was introduced by a brief reading; no dry history lesson, but an exploration of byways peopled by the likes of Will Kempe and “Nosy” Parker. And, wittily, rumour and speculation about Edward de Vere were followed by Morley's Fyer, Fyer !
Contemporary works included a lovely piece by Weelkes, who also contributed the Kempe song, and Latin settings by Byrd, the great survivor of the old faith.
Britten's Gloriana was central to the concert – the mesmeric Concord, and the rhythmic men's voices in Rustics and Fishermen – and other later English voices included Purcell [The Faerie Queen] and Holst's glorious Partsongs: the beautifully sustained Dream Tryst and Come to Me, bracketing the livelier birds and glow-worms.
Christine joined accompanist Caroline Finlay for two helpings of Warlock's Capriol Suite, in its original piano duet version.
In addition to their concerts, Writtle Singers are offering a free open workshop [Byrd and Vaughan Williams] in the Church on March 30.