The Sixteen Tours brings this magnificent large-scale piece to Peterborough Cathedral (2 Feb 2019)
Starting in February 2019 The choir and orchestra of The Sixteen will be transporting UK audiences to the splendour of St Mark’s, Venice, through performances of Monteverdi’s rhythmically thrilling, sonorous and large-scale Vespers of 1610. Cathedral choristers will participate in performances, there will be a major education project with the Medway Music Hub and online resources will be available to audience members.
About the music
Monteverdi is unlikely to have heard the Vespers in the complete form we know today. The music in his original 1610 publication was intended to be used as a resource by choirmasters in the great churches like St Mark’s in Venice or St Peter’s in Rome who might have used parts of it, depending on the choral and instrumental forces they had at their disposal. Monteverdi offered performance options with organ alone, to make it possible for this music to be as widely performed as possible. His strategy was highly effective – not only did it help him secure employment at St Mark’s in Venice in 1613, it also meant that Vespers was the most widely known significant piece of printed music before the time of JS Bach. It was published in the same year as Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and Galileo’s astronomical pamphlet The Starry Messenger. Some of the music was available from the turn of the 20th century, although it was not until 1937 when it was published in a collected edition of all Monteverdi’s works, that all the music became available. The first performance in England took place in 1946 at Central Hall, Westminster under the auspices of the composer Michael Tippett and conducted by Walter Goehr.
About The Sixteen
Whether performing a simple medieval hymn or expressing the complex musical and emotional language of a contemporary choral composition, The Sixteen does so with qualities common to all great ensembles. Tonal warmth, rhythmic precision and immaculate intonation are clearly essential to the mix. But it is the courage and intensity with which The Sixteen makes music that speak above all to so many people.
The Sixteen gave its first concert in 1979 under the direction of Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers CBE. Their pioneering work since has made a profound impact on the performance of choral music and attracted a large new audience, not least as ‘The Voices of Classic FM’ and through BBC television’s Sacred Music series.
The voices and period-instrument players of The Sixteen are at home in over five centuries of music, a breadth reflected in their annual Choral Pilgrimage to Britain’s great cathedrals and sacred spaces, regular appearances at the world’s leading concert halls, and award-winning recordings for The Sixteen’s CORO and other labels.
Recent highlights include the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Stabat mater, commissioned for The Sixteen by the Genesis Foundation, an ambitious ongoing series of Handel oratorios, and a debut tour of China.
The Sixteen: Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
2 February, 7.30pm
‘Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is quite simply one of the greatest works of sacred music ever written: it is without doubt the most varied and inspired work before Handel and Bach began composing their oratorios and passions. The variety alone makes it unique – from thrilling psalm settings with virtuosic writing for both multi-part choir and instrumentalists to exotic and sensual settings of texts from the Song of Songs for solo voices. Every movement is full of luscious harmonies, beautifully constructed for all concerned.’ – Harry Christophers CBE