Back through time: the Lost Consort

One of the smallest ensembles this year, the eight-voice Lost Consort has been quietly working away on ancient repertoire over the past couple of terms in preparation for two unique performances.

The group has been focusing on plainsong, including the luminous Kyrie by Hildegard von Bingen, in a sequence of music combined with Renaissance polyphony by William Byrd, exploring the remarkable contrast that occurs when a piece of plainchant suddenly blossoms into a four-part motet.

Yesterday, the group (or most of them, anyway…) met to rehearse in the sonorous acoustics of Studio 3 Gallery, the University’s art gallery in the Jarman Building, where unfurling Ave maris stella and Victimae paschali laudes into the richly resonant space was a breathtaking experience; the pacing of these whorling lines needs different considerations when compared to the way we’ve been pacing them in rehearsals in the concert-hall. And Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus bloomed into a hugely expressive, lachrymaic ode in Studio 3, taking on both an emotional grandeur and contrastingly a greater sense of intimacy (six voices raised in such an echoing space) at the same time.

We’re preparing the sequence to perform amidst a sonic backdrop of a forest soundscape – and no, not just to play on Byrd/bird song… – which we were experimenting with yesterday, which created a wonderful sense of space, and which we are performing on Tuesday 3 April at 1.10pm; the change from musical colours to the natural sounds of birdsong leads the listener to a completely different place. And later, in June, the group will present the programme in the historic Undercroft of the 12-century Eastbridge Pilgrim’s Hospital in the heart of Canterbury as part of Summer Music Week.

If yesterday’s rehearsal was anything to go by, the two events promise to be revelatory; come and experience time-out-of-time for yourself on Tuesday 3 April…

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