Published: April 3, 2018

MSU Music hosts award winning choral ensemble

Contact(s): Michael Sundermann College of Music office: (517) 353-2043

For over four decades, the Tallis Scholars have been performing music of the Renaissance across the globe. The group will perform works by Renaissance composers Palestrina, Victoria, Josquin, Mouton and Guerrero as well as contemporary composers Arvo Pärt and John Taverner in a concert commemorating those who lost their lives in the First World War. The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m., April 15, in Fairchild Theatre.

The program includes movements from Palestrina’s famous “Missa Papae Marcelli, Victoria’s “Requiem,” Guerrero’s “Missa Batallia" (“Battle Mass”) and contemporary British composer John Taverner’s “Song for Athene,” sung at the funeral of Princess Diana.

This concert is part of the Taylor Johnston Early Music Series, now in its third year, focusing on Renaissance- and Baroque-era music performed by guest artists from around the world. Previous concerts this season included a September 2017 performance of works by Bach and Telemann by Harmonious Blacksmith, followed by the February 2018 performance of the ensemble from Belgium, the Flanders Recorded Quartet, part of their 30th anniversary and final world tour.

In 1973, Peter Phillips, inspired by the sound of Renaissance choral music, sought to “pursue the perfect ideal sound” in a vocal ensemble. He founded the Tallis Scholars, a group of ten core singers who would focus mainly on Renaissance compositions.

The group’s structure is unique, having two on a part as opposed to one or three. This arrangement poses a challenge to the singers but, according to Phillips, produces a beautiful and unified sound. Hailed as “the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music” by The New York Times, their sound has been praised all over the world.

In 1987, the Tallis Scholars was awarded the Gramophone Record of the Year Award for their album Josquin- Missa Pange lingua & Missa La sol fa re mi, distinguishing them as a leading force in interpreting Renaissance polyphony. Thanks to Phillips’ dedication to lesser-known composers, the group has made the first recordings of many antique works.

Taylor Johnston, the sponsor of the Early Music Series, is on the faculty in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He combines his love of science with his passion for singing and playing early music on wind instruments, primarily the recorder.

Admission is free for students with ID and anyone under the age of 18. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (age 60 and older) and can be purchased online, at the College of Music box office, by calling (517) 353-5340, or in person.

More information, including a video preview see the event page at the College of Music’s website:

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