A musical pilgrimage

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Vespers in St. Mary's church

The idea of splitting a concert between two venues interspersed by a beautiful walk through the Sussex countryside was an inspired one. On Friday, September 24, the Victoria Consort took us on a pilgrimage from Rye’s St. Mary’s Church, in which we heard music for the old monastic service of vespers, by way of the 1066 Trail under Cadborough Cliff to St Thomas’, Winchelsea for compline.

The Consort is a professional Kent-based group of singers, some of them established soloists, conducted by Benjamin Bevan. Vespers featured choral music from Italy, compline that of Spain. Well-known composers such as Palestrina and Victoria featured but the emphasis was on those whose work is only now being discovered and transcribed from original sources.

The programme was given variety partly by, for example, the contrast between the unadorned plainsong and the polyphonic psalm settings but also by using different conductors and groups of singers taken from within the full choir for each piece. Although there were some moments of uncertainty, there were also some lovely voices in this group and the blend was very good. The whole experience of the two churches, the autumnal walk and, above all, deftly-crafted choral music new to the listeners and sympathetically performed was enchanting.

Image Credits: Kt Bruce .

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