The twelve days of Christmas!

Published: 9th January 2016

Looking back to the end of 2015, we undertook our first major UK tour, bringing our ‘Christmas with the Shepherds’ programme to audiences in Perthshire, Edinburgh, York, Oxford, Canterbury, West Somerset and London over the course of just under two weeks in December. Despite the best efforts of the weather and ensuing road and rail difficulties (not to mention a plastic bag on an overhead line!), we managed to make it to all of our intended destinations, and were met with wonderfully warm responses from friendly and welcoming audiences (some a little too warm, as an audience member fainted during one performance due to the heat of having so many people packed into the church!).

The Sunday Times’s Paul Driver attended our final concert of the tour, our debut at the Spitalfields Winter Festival in St Leonard’s Shoreditch, and had the following to say:

‘McCleery, a countertenor and academic as well as conductor, introduced the items with a lucidity combining boyish geniality with quite startling erudition … I felt a door was being opened on this historical period, and it was the very door of St Leonard’s. The singers were marvellous. Highlights were the opening Marian antiphon by Victoria, and his six-part Quem vidistis, pastores?, its imitative structure emerging with the most sublime clarity.’

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Reviews

"The Marian Consort’s performances deliver full value in terms of expressive range and sophistication. Pitch-perfect tuning and immaculately clean ensemble … add further to the attractions of this eminently listenable recital."

BBC Music Magazine

"You are left in no doubt of the agony of the crucifixion in the vocal and horn climax of the opening chorus of Stabat Mater ... intense and riveting."

The Times

"There’s earnest beauty in it and the instrumental playing on this recording is spot on – the Berkeley Ensemble under David Wordsworth clinches the balance of chaste, plaintive and urgent."

The Gaurdian

"The Marian Consort has built an enviable reputation for coolly poised and precisely balanced performances and indeed there are times here when the listener can only sit back and admire, seduced by the sheer beauty of sound."

Early Music Today

"Singing one person to a part, the Marian Consort give sublimely refined, spacious and impeccably tuned performances."

The Sunday Times

"The Marian Consort’s background in early music pays dividends in their superb precision of pitch, impeccable rhythmic placing and beautiful diction … the lush harmonies that open [Judica me] are sumptuously delivered and beautifully recorded."

Gramophone

"Little is known about the 16th-century composer, except that his beautifully smooth polyphony was much admired ... As revealed with pellucid clarity by Rory McCleery’s young Marian Consort on this first recording devoted exclusively to Maillard, he was a subtly expressive composer."

The Times

"With two women in the group, they make no pretence at emulating what might have happened in the 16th century; but that lets them sing out with more freedom. So this is no-nonsense musicianship, but for all that thoroughly musical ... The unfussy performance helps the music enormously."

Gramophone

"The motets are more adventurous, declamatory and cleverly nuanced, with a recognisable house style. The Marian Consort produces a very pleasing sound."

Early Music Today

"The most striking feature of this entertainingly varied collection is the consistently fresh, fruit-ripe tonal quality of the Marian Consort's singing … poised and flexible, the text responded to with notable insight and maturity."

BBC Music Magazine