Tallis Festival 2015

6-8 February 2015

Spem in alium

Ein Deutsches Requiem

(piano duet version)


León (from Path of Miracles)

The Tallis Festival 2015 comprised the 40-part Tallis motet Spem in alium, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Arvo Pärt’s Magnificat and ‘León’ from Joby Talbot’s 2004 work Path of Miracles, inspired by the medieval pilgrim route to Santiago di Compostela in Spain.

The Tallis Festival culminated in a concert in St Andrew Holborn on Sunday 8 February 2015 at 7.30pm.
Download a Concert poster

Music Director’s notes

There were two clear front-runners for “large work” in the poll of past Tallis Festival participants: the Monteverdi Vespers and the ever-popular Brahms work Ein Deutsches Requiem. I have chosen the Brahms, because it has (perhaps surprisingly) never been done at the Tallis Festival. We shall be using Brahms’s own version for piano duet, which comes highly recommended and will, furthermore, enable us to give a starring role in the closing concert to our popular and gifted Festival repetiteurs. As a bonus, using the chamber version enables us to reduce the participants’ fees across the board to make for an affordable Tallis 2015 and hopefully a particularly big crowd. As always, the solos will be taken by participants; auditions will be early in the new year and we’ll announce details before Christmas. (NB: we shall be using the standard Peters vocal score. If you happen to have a Novello copy you are welcome to use it if you are prepared to adapt the rehearsal letters but make sure it’s in German!)

The clear winner of the participants’ poll for the “beautiful short work” slot was the Arvo Pärt Magnificat of 1989. (This is entirely distinct from his well-known 7 Magnificat antiphons.) I’m very excited to be exploring this lovely 7-minute piece for the first time. I don’t think the notes are too difficult (though it does end on a major seventh chord) but tuning and ensemble are going to need plenty of attention! Listen to Pärt Magnificat.

Conductor’s pick this time is Joby Talbot’s León from Path of Miracles. I absolutely love this piece; it’s in 15 parts so should suit the Tallis Festival forces very well. Technically it is certainly not easy but there are recurring figures both vertically and horizontally and I think this will simplify the task. Musically I don’t have the words to describe it so just have a listen here.

Needless to say, the star of the show will be an unabashed large-scale performance of Thomas Tallis’ iconic 40-part motet Spem in alium nunquam habui for eight spatially-disposed 5-part choirs. It is impossible to learn this piece by rote so rest assured that most note-bashing will be reserved for awkward corners; there will, however, be the opportunity to work in smaller units with assistant conductors so that individual problems can be solved. If you are a Spem virgin and unsure about your sight-reading don’t be daunted, therefore! The regulars will get you through it, you’ll have a unique musical experience and you’ll find yourself teaching it to others in years to come.
James Jarvis
Music Director, Exmoor Singers

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