Celebrating Tippett and Tallis

TONY COOPER The Sixteen and Harry Christophers are travelling on their choral pilgrimage with an excellent programme entitled An Immortal Legacy.


The Sixteen and Harry Christophers are travelling on their choral pilgrimage with an excellent programme entitled An Immortal Legacy. And this year they are celebrating a rich legacy indeed: Sir Michael Tippett's centenary and the 500th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Tallis.

The choir embarked on its first pilgrimage in 2000. On this tour it will perform music that spans five centuries in cathedrals and churches for which it was written, touring to no fewer than 16 cathedrals and churches – a numeric coincidence!

The tour stretches from York to St Asaph Llanelwy taking in Canterbury, Wells, St John's College, Cambridge, Liverpool and Edinburgh and reaches Norwich on Friday March 18. The concert will be held in St Peter Mancroft Church (opposite The Forum) at 7.30pm. It will be preceded by a free talk at 7pm entitled Traditions Revisited by Sally Dunkley, a founder member of the Sixteen and a writer and editor on 16th century choral music.

The programme will include Tallis' Tunes from Archbishop Parker's Psalter – O Nata Lux, O Sacrum Convivium – as well as his spectacular antiphon to the Virgin, Mary Gaude Gloriosa.

Tippett is represented by performances of Plebs Angelica, Five Spirituals from A Child of Our Time and O Nata Lux, a piece which Harry Christophers describes as “one of the finest miniatures of all choral music”.

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So far this year it has been a whirlwind of activity for the Sixteen. Their chart-topping Renaissance: Music for Inner Peace album for Universal has sat at the top of the classical charts for many weeks and the police had to be called to a concert they were performing in northern Spain!

The crowds outside Oviedo cathedral became so anxious to get in and claim their seats that police had to set up a crowd control system to stop personal injury or damage to the cathedral. Norwich should be a quieter affair.

This year the Sixteen will also visit Zagreb, Budapest, Bologna and Milan for the first time as well as undertake a major tour of America in April opening with a concert at the Lincoln Center in New York.

And closer to home, the Sixteen's own Handel in Oxford Festival – launched last year to critical and public acclaim – will take place in June.

A spring recording of Victoria's Requiem for Coro – the group's own label – promises to follow up the success of the recent Heroes and Heroines recording of Handel arias with Sarah Connolly and the Symphony of Harmony and Invention.

Tickets for the Norwich concert are £22, £16 and £8 at the door or from Norwich Theatre Royal, 01603 630000

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