Friday 11 February 2022

The Politics of Polyphony


Front cover of the "Kyrie Eleison" from the Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (c.1540–1623), probably published in London by Thomas East
Front cover of the "Kyrie Eleison" from Byrd's Mass for Four Voices
probably published in London by Thomas East

In 1605, Charles de Ligny, a French aristocrat visiting London, was arrested and imprisoned as a spy.  The evidence against him was a book of music he was carrying with him.  How could music be so dangerous that mere possession of it could get you thrown into prison?

This is the fascinating background to The Fourth Choir's forthcoming concert, The Politics of Polyphony at the church of St Bartholomew the Great on Saturday 19 March 2022. Conducted by Jamie Powe, the choir will be performing music from the earliest beginnings of polyphony through the complexities of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, including a music from one of William Byrd's masses which were written for masses celebrated covertly and illegally by England's proscribed Roman Catholics and were published without title pages and in a way that made concealment easier.

The choir will also be performing music by more recent and contemporary composers in the same tradition including works by Judith Weir, Kerry Andrew, Rosephanye Powell, R. Nathaniel Dett and Francis Poulenc.

The Fourth Choir was founded in September 2013 by a group of LGBT + singers aspiring to sing classical and modern choral works to the highest possible standard. Our goal is to represent the LGBT + community on London’s world-class classical music scene.

Full details from the choir's website.

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