The Marian Consort is a Gramophone Award-nominated vocal ensemble, recognised for its innovative presentation of a broad range of repertoire. Led by founder and director, Rory McCleery, The Marian Consort performs across the UK, Europe and North America, and features regularly on BBC Radio 3.
Praised by The Scotsman for ‘performances that glow with golden purity and soul’, the group is composed of the very best singers performing one to a part, allowing clarity of texture and subtlety of interpretation that illuminates the music for performer and audience alike.
The Marian Consort’s repertoire encompasses music from the fifteenth century to the present day, with a particular focus on exploring lesser-known works. TMC is committed to creating new music, and has commissioned leading British composers including Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Gabriel Jackson, Cecilia McDowall, and Matthew Martin.
The Marian Consort is a pioneer of projects which move beyond the confines of the traditional concert, bringing music of the past to today’s audiences. TMC has toured Breaking the Rules by musician and playwright Clare Norburn, a concert drama exploring the life and crimes of Carlo Gesualdo, to LSO St Lukes, Lichfield, Buxton, Cheltenham, Bath and Lammermuir Festivals, garnering five-star reviews.
The Marian Consort collaborates with ensembles including the Carducci Quartet, Berkeley Ensemble, Rose Consort of Viols, Illryia Consort, the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, and Ludus Baroque, in repertoire ranging from Byrd to Monteverdi and Arvo Pärt to Michael Berkeley. TMC has released ten recordings to critical acclaim, praised for ‘precision and pellucid textures’ (The Times) and for ‘drawing the listener in by quiet persuasion and musical intelligence of the highest order’ (The Guardian).
Recent performance highlights include concerts in the Bascule Chamber underneath London’s Tower Bridge; a debut performance in Estonia at the 24th Kuressaare Chamber Music Days; a residency at the Cambridge Early Music Festival; a concert at the Misteria Paschalia Festival, broadcast on Polish National Radio; and a UK tour to celebrate the group’s tenth anniversary. The Marian Consort made its inaugural tour of the US and Canada in October 2018, and will tour Japan in spring 2020.
McCleery elicits performances that glow with golden purity and soul’ (The Scotsman) ‘McCleery, a countertenor and academic as well as conductor, introduced the items with a lucidity combining boyish geniality with quite startling erudition.’ (The Sunday Times) Rory McCleery began his musical career as a chorister at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh. He gained a double first in music at Oxford University as both Organ and Domus Academic scholar of St Peter’s College, subsequently completing an MSt in Musicology with Distinction. Rory is the founder of The Marian Consort, with whom he performs across the UK and Europe. Under his direction, The Marian Consort has become renowned for its compelling interpretations of a wide range of repertoire, particularly the music of the Renaissance and early Baroque, but also of works by contemporary British composers, and in 2017 was nominated for a Gramophone Award. As a countertenor, Rory greatly enjoys performing as a soloist and consort singer in concert and recording with ensembles including The Dunedin Consort, Contrapunctus, The Monteverdi Choir, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort, Le Concert d’Astrée, The Academy of Ancient Music, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Cardinall’s Musick. Recent solo performances have included Bach St John and St Matthew Passions; Handel Messiah, Dixit Dominus and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne; Pärt Passio; Purcell Come ye Sons of Art, Ode to St Cecilia and Welcome to All the Pleasures; Monteverdi Vespers of 1610; Rameau Grands Motets; and Britten Abraham and Isaac in venues across the UK and Europe. Rory has appeared as a soloist for broadcasts on ARTE, Radio France, BBC Radio 3 and German and Italian radio, and collaborates regularly with the Rose Consort of Viols. Rory is much in demand as a guest conductor, workshop leader and programming consultant, and is a passionate believer in the importance of music education and singing for young people.
"Singing one person to a part, the Marian Consort give sublimely refined, spacious and impeccably tuned performances."
"The singers perform with a yearning intensity which is just exquisite."
"Exemplary one-to-a-part performances ... the singing is as impassioned as it is effortlessly elegant."
"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."
"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."
"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 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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"The motets are more adventurous, declamatory and cleverly nuanced, with a recognisable house style. The Marian Consort produces a very pleasing sound."
"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."
Sign up below to get the latest news and updates from The Marian Consort.