Keeping Your Head:
The Peril and Power of Sacred Choral Music in the English Renaissance

Friday, June 1
St. Mary's Church
15 Clark St., Auburn

Saturday, June 2
8:00 PM
St. Anne Church
1600 Mt. Hope Ave., Rochester


British musicians of the age associated with Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and their immediate successors often wrote music in the preferred style of the monarchs by whom they were employed.  Failing to make this adaptation to the tastes of the ruler then in power put a composer literally at risk of “losing his head”.  As changing monarchs alternated their loyalties between Roman Catholicism and support for the Church of England, composers skillfully adapted the music to remain in the ruling monarch’s favor. None was more able than William Byrd, who enjoyed the exclusive royal patent for printing music from the protestant Queen
Elizabeth I in spite of his known Roman Catholic sympathies.

In this concert presented by Musica Spei -- a Rochester-based choral group dedicated to bringing early music to life for modern audiences -- listeners will experience samplings of choral pieces from the early English Renaissance, representing composers such as Dunstable and Fayrfax, as well as examples of plainchant and early music for multiple voice parts.  The second half of the performance will feature composers Tye, Taverner, Tallis, and, of course, Byrd: music closely associated with the reign of Elizabeth I.

Receptions to follow both performances.