This summer marks 400 years since the death of Renaissance choral master Tomás Luis de Victoria
There's no obvious Australian connection historically, but St. James King Street, which calls itself the oldest remaining church in Sydney, is hosting a four-concert festival in honour of Tomás Luis de Victoria, the most famous composer from Renaissance Spain, and one of the great masters of polyphony. August marks the 400th anniversary of Victoria's death.
The Aussies even have a countdown clock on the website.
My not-so-recent Grove dictionary says that the known works by Victoria include about 20 settings of the Mass, a Funeral Mass, 18 Magnificats, a well-known series of anthems and motets for Holy Week published in 1585.
The image is from a section of the Gloria from Victoria's Missa Gaudeamus, published in 1576, just before the 28-year-old returned to Spain from a long stint in Rome, to go work as the chaplain to Philip II's sister, the Dowager Empress Maria.
You can check out more on Victoria here.
One of the qualities that makes Victoria's music special is the skill with which he matches textual meaning and musical expression. He is also a master of creative dissonance.
As a substantial sample, here is the choir of St. James King Street with a gorgeous interpretations of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Victoria's Mass for the Ascension of Christ (which would traditionally be performed on the Feast of the Ascension, which happened this past Thursday, this year) from an album they've recorded, titled No Ordinary Sunday.
The choir's music director is British-born Warren Trevelyan-Jones (there's an interesting interview about the church, the history of sacred choral music and the difficulty in finding good "consort" singers in a culture dominated by opera with Trevelyan-Jones from a half-hour May 1 radio broadcast available on the ABC website).