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20 May 2016
The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge, directed by Richard Pinel, has gained an international reputation for its music-making, based on performances around the globe, broadcasts, highly praised recordings and regular services in the College's beautiful and ancient chapel.
Jesus College, founded out of the ancient nunnery of St Radegund in 1496, has a long and rich tradition of church music. It is distinctive in maintaining two choirs: the Chapel Choir, with its centuries of tradition, which is made up of boy choristers and adult male singers; and the College Choir, formed in 1982, which has female undergraduates for its top line. The adult male singers form the ‘back row’ for both choirs. Each choir has developed a distinctive reputation and repertoire.
Occasionally, the College and Chapel Choirs join together for services and concerts, forming an ensemble of nearly fifty singers. Projects have included Haydn's Nelson Mass, Handel's Messiah and Bach's St Matthew Passion and St John Passion. The Combined Choirs have performed with renowned soloists and ensembles including the Saraband Consort and His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts under Mark Williams, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under John Rutter. The Combined Choirs also participate in regular large-scale performances with other Cambridge Choirs, including Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, Verdi's Otello and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.
Thomas Tallis was an English composer who occupies a primary place in anthologies of English choral music, and is considered one of England's greatest composers. He is honoured for his original voice in English musicianship. No contemporary portrait of Tallis survives: that painted by Gerard Vandergucht (illustration), dates from 150 years after Tallis died, and there is no reason to suppose that it is a likeness. In a rare existing copy of his black letter signature, the composer spelled his last name "Tallys." Tallis is known for his work with William Byrd. He started to teach the much younger Byrd at the Chapel Royal in London. Later, they were both appointed as organists of the Chapel.
William Byrd was an English composer. He was one of the greatest composers of his generation. Hiis name is sometimes spelled as Bird, Byrde, or Byred. The exact dates of his birth and death are not known, and even his place of birth (Lincoln) is merely guesswork, based on the fact that several families named Byrd lived in Lincolnshire during the 17th century.
As a child, Byrd received music lessons from the renowned Thomas Tallis in the Chapel Royal in London. Byrd is part of the so-called virginalists. In 1563, he was appointed as organist of the cathedral in Lincoln, even though he must have only been around 20 years old and in 1572 he was appointed as organist of Chapel Royal together with Tallis. In 1575, again with Tallis, he received the rights to publish and sell his music by Queen Elizabeth I. In honour of the Queen, the two composers dedicated their Cantiones Sacrae in the same year.
On multiple occasions, Byrd was prosecuted in court. As a catholic, he was repeatedly prosecuted for the rejection of Anglicanism. Nonetheless, he remained in favour of the Queen, probably because he composed music for both religious branches. Moreover, he wrote both secular and sacred music, and both vocal and instrumental pieces.