Song Company Byrd graphic


The Dow Partbooks and the Lost Art of Partbooking
Thu 22 Mar 2018

Exquisite polyphony by William Byrd and friends, written down in the late sixteenth century between Oxford and London and sung from partbooks around the table – in town tavern and country house.

Imagine a dinner party where your host passes round antique leather-bound music manuscripts and says, “You’re singing tenor!” Then around the table, one voice after another begins to sing from the ancient Dow Partbooks, bringing to life the most beautiful music from late sixteenth-century Oxford and London. Each part has to count and listen out for the others, and together they own the communal but invisible pulse – the “tactus”, a Latin word meaning something touched or felt.

Whether singing or listening, the experience is one of an unfolding narrative – a collective navigation through a gorgeous harmonic landscape – enabling us to explore the innermost feelings hidden in the music of William Byrd and his friends, who shared this sumptuous polyphony over 400 years ago, no doubt with candles, wine, much laughter and bonhomie!

Program of table music and motets by Byrd & Co.:
William Byrd       O Lord make Thy servant Elizabeth
William Byrd       Ne irasceris
Robert White      Lamentations a5
William Byrd       Christe qui lux es
Robert Parsons   O bone Jesu

The Song Company

Vocalisation is all about the sound and the story. The Song Company of Australia comprises the continent’s leading vocal ensemble, singing music of all times and places.

Adult $42, Concession $38
Gallery Member $34 and Student $25

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