Cantorum’s next concert :
Cantorum is busy preparing for its next concert, presenting a selection of a cappella music by Palestrina, Parry, Victoria and Taverner. Palestrina’s Missa l’Homme Armé is a mass based on the 15th century song, The Armed Man, a French tune thought to originate during the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, when Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) was the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Used as the basis for masses by many composers, including Josquin, Ockeghem, Obrecht
and Dufay, and recently by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins in 1999 and New Zealand composer
Christopher Marshall writing for wind ensemble in 2003, the tune of The Armed Man
is used by Palestrina as a "cantus firmus”; he weaves intricate counterpoint around
the tune as it is sung in long held notes that hold each movement together harmonically.
Missa l’Homme Armé is a wonderful piece, with a surprising range of musical mood-
Cantorum will also perform the first four of Parry’s six Songs of Farewell. Written mostly to 16th and 17th century texts, which are expressions of personal belief rather than sacred texts, Parry composed them in 1916, during World War I; he was agonised at the carnage being caused in Europe by his fellow countrymen, and his music builds in intensity song by song. Acknowledging the end of human innocence in the face of such destruction, Parry died in 1918, only five weeks before the War ended on Armistice Day, 11 November.
Adding a modern tinge to the concert with John Tavener’s Funeral Ikos, a haunting piece using a Gregorian plainchant style to set part of The Order of the Burial of the Dead to music, and performing other works by the 16th century John Taverner and the Spaniard Tomas Luis de Victoria, Cantorum is looking forward to performing again at All Saints Ponsonby.