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Platinum Choral Workshop: Palestrina Mass for Christmas

St Mary's, BatterseaBattersea Church Road, London, Greater London, SW11 3NA, United Kingdom
On Saturday 5 December 2020 at 10:30
Scott Inglis-KidgerDirector

“He is the real king of sacred music and the eternal father of Italian music." – Guiseppe Verdi on Palestrina.

The legend that Palestrina managed to convince the Council of Trent that a complete ban of polyphonic music was not necessary has now been brought into question. The Council’s main concern was that sacred music was becoming too convoluted and the text lost in the texture. Whether or not Palestrina influenced the cardinals of the Council, no official ruling was ever made. It is true, however, that Palestrina seemed able to find the perfect balance of polyphonic flare and syllabic rendering of text, and his compositional practices are of great scholarly importance in modern times. In this, our final Flagship Workshop of the year, we sing the double-choir motet Hodie Christus Natus Est, published in Venice in 1575, and an eight-part mass based on material from the motet. Palestrina cleverly arranges the two choirs into high and low (SSAB and ATTB), thus creating two contrasting sonorities, best displayed in the antiphonal cries of ‘Noe, noe’. In the mass, the careful interweaving of ascending and descending vocal lines, and a frequent joining of forces of the two choirs, results in a great sense of grandeur. Another point of interest is the consistent use of triple time throughout the mass, evoking a dance-like joyfulness at the birth of Jesus.

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