Petworth Festival: anniversary concert

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The Cardinall’s Musick come to the Petworth Festival just as they launch into a year of celebrations marking their 25th anniversary.

Founded and directed by Andrew Carwood, the director of music at St Paul’s Cathedral, the award-winning eight-piece vocal ensemble has won for itself a fine reputation for its extensive study of English Renaissance music.

They will be in action at Easebourne Church, near Midhurst, on Friday, August 1 at 8pm (tickets 01798 344576).

“We are 25 years old officially on December 18, and we are going to have a year running from July to July, where we have put together an anniversary programme of all the things we have most enjoyed singing,” Andrew said. “This is the programme we will be doing for Petworth, a mixture of pieces that we have done over the years.”

The idea is to celebrate a quarter of a century: “You have to be very determined. The classical music side goes up and down, and it has certainly been affected by the downturn, though perhaps a couple of years later. A lot of the time, people have got the funding in place for one year, two years or maybe three years, so you feel the recession a little later.

“But it just means that you have to be fighting for funding. There is money still around, but people are a little bit less keen to part with it!”

Andrew is the founder and director: “I was in Oxford at the time, singing in Christ Church Cathedral. I was very keen to set up a group that had a slightly-different focus to the other groups that you could hear at the time. I wanted a group that was built around individual singers. I wanted a group where each of the individual singers was equally important and equally characterful. It is a little bit like eight soloists coming together.

“Eight is a good number. It is very flexible. It allows you to do eight-part music, and some of the finest music that we do is in eight parts, but also when you come down to the smaller scorings, you have the chance to have individual leads.

“Fortunately, we have managed to be a very consistent group. We have had changes over the years as people have moved abroad or as their careers have taken off, but right from the start, we were very clear about what we were trying to do. I don’t like the idea of blend. For me to achieve precision in choral singing, it is all about phrasing. I don’t like the idea of blending, because for me that implies a sense of damping down, bringing it down to the smallest voice. Blend to me sounds like a smoothing out. I expect our performances to be a bit more red-blooded than that, and if it is a little bit rougher around the edges, that is not a bad thing.

“From the very first concert, there are three of us left. We were nine of us in that first concert, and that was without sopranos. We took on sopranos two or three years after that.”

The programme will be: William Byrd (c.1540-1623) Laudibus in sanctis; Robert Parsons (c.1535-72) Ave Maria; Thomas Tallis (c.1505-85) Sancte Deus; Paul Crabtree (b.1960) The Valley of Delight, Journey, Workdance, Death & Resurrection; Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623) O Lord arise; Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) Almighty God the fountain of all wisdom; Orlando Gibbons (1585-1625) O clap your hands together; Tomas Luis da Victoria (1548-1611) Alma redemptoris mater; Jacob Handl (1550-91) Mirabile mysterium; Francisco Guerrero (1528-99) Regina caeli; Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) Christus resurgens; Francisco Guerrero Virgo prudentissima; Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629) Magnificat quinti toni.