Old Music Tuesday: The Baldwin Partbooks

Baldwin Partbooks

John Baldwin was a singer in St George’s Chapel Windsor in the late 16th century. He also sang in the Chapel Royal. A man of many talents, Baldwin was also a composer, and copied manuscripts. He is the source of many of the manuscripts we have of music from this…

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Old Music Tuesday: Henry’s Musical Court & The Western Wynde Mass

Western Wind Mass

Yep, you read that right. The musical court of Henry VIII. While many of us think of the monarch with six wives as fat and pretty darn corpulent, he wasn’t always this way. In fact, when he was young, he was quite the hottie, impressing women with his jousting feats,…

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Music for Impressing a King: Taverner’s Missa Corona Spinea, Wolsey, and Henry VIII

In March 1527 Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon visited Cardinal Wolsey’s new foundation – Cardinal’s College – in Oxford.  John Taverner, one of the most famous composers of his time, was commissioned to write an appropriately stunning piece of choral music that would wow the King and…

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Five Great Albums to Start an Early English Music Journey

It’s been just over 20 years since I first became hooked on early English choral music through singing Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus in my high school chamber choir.  I talk about that piece a lot – it sums up for me this struggle of humanity; how much do you conform vs…

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Melancholia and Euphemisms from the 17th century to now: John Dowland and Sting

Lasting art is startling in its provocativeness and sensuality, whether it’s just been released, or if it’s 500 years old.  Music is especially striking because it is living – each time it is performed it is renewed, recreated, regenerated.  No two performances are exactly the same, and it’s that living, breathing…

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Staying relevant in pop culture after 500 years: Tallis and Spem in Alium

A few months ago I went to pull up a recording of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium, his famous 40 part motet written for 8 5-part choirs.  I hadn’t listened to it in a while, and it was the kind of day that called for some later Tallis.  The recording that came…

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Anne Boleyn’s Songbook: sharing the intimate emotions of a Queen

I posted recently about my interview with Dr. David Skinner, an eminent musicologist based out of the College of Sidney Sussex, Cambridge.  When I posted before it was about the logistics of my interview (getting caught in the rain, microphone not working, etc etc).  But now that his CD is…

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Suzi Digby talks 500 years of choral music in 34 minutes.

In 2011 I met Suzi Digby via Twitter.  Having found out that she is a choral goddess and was in Los Angeles for a visiting professorship in choral conducting and arts leadership, I immediately asked if I could take her to coffee and meet her.  I visited her in Queen’s…

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Old Music Monday: Biber’s Resurrection Sonata

There’s something about Baroque music that just screams Autumn to me.  I don’t know where it comes from – I suppose the main baroque music my family listened to growing up would have been a recording of the Messiah which would begin its heavy Christmas rotation soon after Halloween, so…

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launching the bigworld tour company, and why I love early choral music

This year I am embarking on a new project as an entrepreneur who leads cultural tours to England, specializing in trips to listen to great choral services in cathedrals.  My dear friend Jim and I are building a tour company, our first trip is scheduled for May 2016, and I’ve been working on…

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