England was rife with religious and political turmoil during the first half of the 16th century, but, with the coronation of Elizabeth I as Queen in 1559, a new era of relative stability and prosperity began. Elizabeth liked music and was to create conditions in which it prospered during her reign. Despite her reverting to Protestantism as the true faith, after Bloody Mary’s short but brutal tenure as a Catholic monarch, she was both tolerant and supportive of the great recusant composer, William Byrd, as well as of others.

The opening concert of SSF 2016 brings you Tudor music in a Tudor Chapel, with works from the greatest Tudor composer of the Chapel Royal – William Byrd. The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, built at the behest of Henry VIII c.1515, is an ideal space in which to experience the expressive and opulent tapestry of counterpoint that Byrd weaves through the movements of one of his masterpieces – the Great Service. This rich and sumptuous sacred music presents a vivid and virtuosic display of choral textures and word painting and for this programme is interspersed with songs and keyboard music: great music, sung by great singers, in a great venue.

The Odyssean Ensemble

Christian Wilson organ

Colm Carey director

Introduction by Andrew Johnstone