To Stondon Massey, for the annual concert commemorating the life and music of William Byrd. The Stondon Singers, under the exacting direction of Christopher Tinker, first gave us a suitably upbeat Sing Joyfully with a nice echo effect for “blow the trumpet”; Byrd’s contribution also included three Alleluias, and, from his secular pen, This Sweet and Merry Month, and a lively dance for Amaryllis which bounced beautifully along to follow the interval Pimms and pretzels.
There was Tallis, Sheppard and Stravinsky, and a second Sacrum Convivium from the modern British composer Gabriel Jackson – beautifully crafted in a sumptuous style with more than a hint of Whitacre and the French Romantics.
Tomas Luis de Victoria was featured too, in a performance of a mass from 1592 notable for the richly woven colours of the Kyrie. Victoria shares his 400th birthday this year with the King James Bible, and that work was celebrated with an impressive new piece from Michael Aves. “A Vision of the Word” was a challenge which the choir met with their customary diligence and enthusiasm; the harmonies of “Alpha and Omega” and the closing exhortation to “Write!” especially thrilling.
The concert ended with two helpings of Imogen Holst – The Twelve Kindly Months, and a dramatic arrangement of Gypsy Davy.