I have recently made two cds with The Elizabethan Consort on the label 'The Gift of Music' : 'Elizabeth I' and 'My Heart's Desire'. These are commercially available , price £9.99, from Classical Communications Ltd , Worton Oxon, OX 29 4SZ tel (01865 882920) e mail @thegiftofmusic.com - or from me. Here are details of our forthcoming concert for the Cambridge History Festival on September 4, 2003 at Peterhouse:
Music for Queen Elizabeth I presented by The Elizabethan Consort
Sara Stowe - soprano
Sharon Lindo - violin
Lynda Sayce - lute
Wendy Hancock - flute, treble viol
Matthew Spring - bandora, lute, bass viol
Stewart McCoy - cittern, lute, tenor viol
When Elizabeth Tudor died in 1603, it was the end of a most
extraordinary period of British history. England had experienced
an amazing growth in learning and cultural activity, particularly
in music. Elizabeth herself was enormously fond of music, and
learned to play the lute as a girl.
Viols had been brought to England from Italy during the reign of Henry VIII, but it was William Byrd and other Elizabethan composers, who, with their contrapuntal skills, created an exciting new repertoire of English music: viol fantasies, In Nomines (instrumental pieces incorporating the In Nomine plainsong), dance music, and consort songs (where a solo voice is accompanied by a consort of four viols).
Elizabeth's reign coincided with the Golden Age of English lute music. There are virtuosic settings of pavans and galliards, of variations on popular folk tunes solos, duets, and even trios (though no English trio survives intact). Music printing started to flourish, and John Dowland's First Booke of Songs sparked off the English fashion for lute ayres.
Our concert reflects the diversity of music heard when Elizabeth was queen from serious to light-hearted, from sacred to secular, from introspective lute ayres to patriotic ballads, and from complex polyphonic art music to simple folk tunes.