St. Matthew’s Five Centuries of English Cathedral Music concert in late March proved to be a thoughtful and beautifully crafted exploration of the development of Anglican cathedral music from Tudor times onwards. Despite a late spring snowfall, the Sunday afternoon presentation attracted a sizable audience of about 350 people.
Kirkland Adsett, St. Matthew’s musical director selected works by about 20 of the best known composers representing every time period of the almost 500-year old musical tradition. In addition to the choral offerings, St. Barnabas’s Wesley Warren played an organ solo.
The music ranged from subtlety of William Byrd’s “Civitas sancti tui” and Orlando Gibbons’ “Hosanna to the Son of David” to the boldness of Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” and the simplicity of John Tavener’s “The Lamb”. The choirs also sang works by Thomas Tallis, Thomas Morley, Henry Purcell, Thomas Attwood, John Stainer, Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, and John Rutter. Many of the most influential cathedral music composers were linked to the Chapel Royal as well as London’s Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music.
The audience was deeply moved by the concert and many commented on the freshness of the some of the earliest works and how the more contemporary pieces echoed the music of the past.