When King Henry VIII ascended the throne in 1509, England was Catholic, and on holydays the entire population attended mass, for which elaborate music was written. By the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, Catholicism was outlawed and attending mass was illegal.
We examine how music for one such holyday, the Assumption of the Virgin, changed in these 100 years: from Fayrfax’s sumptuous compositions for Henry VII’s Chapel Royal accompanied by prolix Sarum chant, to Byrd’s hushed intense settings meant to be sung at secret masses in hidden chambers while Elizabeth I’s priest-hunters outside tracked down priests for execution.
Admission is free, with a retiring collection for the upkeep of the host venue. Full texts and translations of the pieces sung will be provided. A brief pre-concert talk will precede the performance, to give listeners some historical background to the music.
Please register on Eventbrite so we have a better idea of audience numbers, to facilitate ushering and programme printing arrangements.