Published: 20th October 2015
Although the weather didn’t look terribly promising on the morning of our final Swiss concert, we still ventured out into Lucerne for a walk and a spot of lunch, before heading to the Marianischer Saal to rehearse for our early evening concert. The hall, at the top of an old Jesuit meeting house, is quite spectacular, as were the views from our dressing room (see right!). Our concert was the first of the 20th Anniversary chamber music series, so we were treated to a drinks reception, at which we were able to meet and chat to many of our audience. They were a wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic group, and it was a lovely way to round off our Swiss debut!
Published: 20th October 2015
After an invigorating cycle round Kartause Ittingen and a hearty organic breakfast (which featured some delicious local strawberry juice!) we set off for Einsiedeln and our fourth concert of the tour. The views from the train window on our way up to the town were quite spectacular, and our concert venue, the Grosser Saal of the Kloster Einsiedeln, which we were told was similarly arresting, did not disappoint! The concert finished with a mad dash back down the hill to the station to catch our train to Lucerne (which we made with whole seconds to spare!) and on arrival we were treated to a delicious dinner at the home of Gerhard Pawlica, organiser of the chamber music series at the Marianischer Saal, before heading to our hotel for some well-earned sleep!
Published: 19th October 2015
After a leisurely breakfast and a trip to the chocolate shop in the square, we set off from Zofingen for Ittingen – this journey involved four changes, with two trains, a bus and eventually a minibus coming to collect us from a deserted Swiss roadside! The travel was worth it, though: Kartause Ittingen is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place, brimming with culture and fantastic organic food, all grown or reared on site. After rehearsal we were treated to dinner in the Kartause restaurant by Ursula Jones, our tour organiser, sponsor and irrepressible force of nature! (pictured right, with Guy and Ed) We then performed to a wonderfully receptive audience, before celebrating Emma’s birthday with a cake (preceded by some ridiculous distraction techniques to keep her occupied while the candles were lit!) in the green room and some well-deserved local beer: brewed on site, of course!
Published: 16th October 2015
This morning we were taken to the Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen, where a private viewing of the Tchudi Liederbuch had been arranged. It was amazing to see the music we are performing in Tschudi’s own beautifully neat hand, with lots of annotations in the margins of almost every piece! No photos were allowed in the viewing room, or sadly in the amazing eighteenth-century Rococo library hall, but we did get a snap of the enormous over-shoe slippers that are mandatory footwear when visiting, to preserve the painstakingly-restored wooden floors!
Then on to Zofingen, for our concert in a converted cinema – the Alass has a fantastically intimate, relaxed atmosphere, very different to yesterday’s venue (but both equally wonderful!), which allowed us to bring out the more chamber-music-like aspects of our programme, and it was great to chat with the audience at the reception afterwards, with some Swiss wine, sausage and cheese in hand!
Published: 15th October 2015
After a wonderfully intimate private concert for our Friends and supporters in London on Tuesday evening, we set off bright and early from Heathrow yesterday for Zurich, heading to St Gallen and the first of 5 Swiss performances this week. What an incredible way to start a tour! The cathedral in St Gallen is magnificent, and the beautifully warm acoustic was just right for our mixed Renaissance and Baroque programme, which also included our new commission from Matthew Martin, ‘Ave Virgo Sanctissima’. It’s no surprise that the music fit the building perfectly, as much of our programme is taken from the Tschudi Liederbuch, a manuscript music collection housed in the Cathedral’s library, which we’re being given a private viewing of this morning!
Published: 7th August 2015
After a wonderful few months of concerts across the UK and Europe, including our debuts at the St Magnus International Festival in Orkney and for the Tage Alter Musik Regensburg, where we gave a late-night performance of our ‘An Emerald in a Work of Gold’ programme with the Rose Consort of Viols to an appreciative audience of nearly 1,000, we’re now looking ahead to a busy season of Autumn and Winter concerts.
In the meantime, we’re delighted to see two new CD reviews, one of our 2014 ‘Christmas with the Shepherds’ release and another of our upcoming ‘Loquebantur – Music from the Baldwin Partbooks’, which is released in early October. (more…)
Published: 1st July 2015
We’re delighted to have spent the weekend in the wonderful German town of Boppard, making our debut at the Rheinvokal Festival. As well as visiting ‘the bendiest bend in the Rhine’, we performed our programme ‘Singing in Secret’, including music by William Byrd and his contemporaries. The concert was recorded and will be broadcast on German radio on November 1st, a singularly appropriate date, as among the works by Byrd featured were his ‘Propers for All Saints’ from the 1605 Gradualia collection.
In advance of the radio broadcast, you can listen to an extract from the concert by visiting our homepage.
Published: 10th December 2014
The first reviews of our latest disc, ‘Christmas with the Shepherds’, a collection of Festive music from Renaissance Rome by Jean Mouton, Cristobal de Morales and Annibale Stabile, are in: BBC Music Magazine gave the CD 4 and 5 stars, praising the ‘pleasing feeling for euphonious balances and forward momentum’ and commenting that ‘the works are mellifluously performed here by the seven members of the youthful Marian Consort, who shape the sinuous polyphony with winning pliability.’
Early Music Review calls the disc ‘another scholarly and musically superb disc, with a Christmas flavour – although fare of this quality deserves all-year delectation! Tuning and blend are exemplary, and tempi are well-judged to allow the glorious contrapuntal and antiphonal textures to glow. Recordings like this should be the basis of any serious music collection – go forth and get!’
Should you wish to follow this advice, copies are available here on our website on the recordings page!
Published: 23rd October 2014
In advance of our appearance at the wonderful St Andrew’s Voices Festival this Friday, Kate Molleson has written a lovely piece which appeared in the Herald last week, and can be viewed online here: she chatted with Rory about the group’s origins and its trademark sound and repertoire, including the exciting Scottish premiere of two works by Jonathan Harvey in St Andrew’s. We hope to see you there!
Published: 20th September 2014
We’re delighted that our recording label, Delphian Records, has been awarded the Gramophone Label of the Year at this year’s Gramophone Awards. The announcement was made at the 2014 awards ceremony, which took place on September 17th in St John’s Smith Square in London, and was attended by The Marian Consort’s director, Rory (pictured below holding the award). We’re going ‘into the studio’ (actually the chapel!) for our next recording with Delphian in January 2015, and our most recent release, Christmas with the Shepherds, will be available from the end of this month.
"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."