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The Tudors are Coming!

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on July 8, 2008 at 11:11 pm with No Comments »
July 8, 2008 11:11 pm

Henry VIII

Prithee, sirs and gentle ladies, if ye would but hear musick divine, get ye to the Tacoma Arte Museum this Saturday night for godly English harmonies.

Okay, enough of that. The Tudors are coming: the Tudor monarchs, that is, and the Tudor Choir. The Seattle a cappella choir is singing an all-Tallis concert at TAM to honor Thomas Tallis, the English Renaissance composer whose forty-part motet “Spem in Alium” is the aural soundscape for Welsh artist Janet Cardiff’s stunning installation in TAM’s upstairs gallery.

Don’t tell me. Please don’t tell me. You haven’t heard of Tallis? Omigosh.

Thomas Tallis

Okay, crash course. Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585) was not only a composer of divinely beautiful polyphonic choral music, he was also possibly one of the most politically astute composers ever. He survived five English monarchs: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane I, Mary I and Elizabeth I. A (possibly) closet Catholic, he survived brutal beheadings and violent swings from Catholicism to Protestantism and back and forth again. Through all this he not only kept his head but his cushy position as court composer.

And his music? Complex, simple, serene, heartbreaking, otherworldly. The sound installation of “Spem” (an amazingly complicated work) can be heard over and over at TAM through September 7. (And also, in part, alongside my review of the exhibit here.) As one of my readers called in to say, “if any music is life-changing, this is it.”

But when you hear Tallis live, it’s even better. The Tudor Choir will be singing his music written under each of the four Tudor monarchs (we’re not counting Jane here, as she only ruled for nine days and probably wasn’t thinking about commissioning music at the time. Then she was beheaded, and couldn’t commission anything.) Director Doug Fullington says they might even sing ranged around the balcony, sounding even more angelic.

Be there or be Stuart. (Get it?)

6:30 p.m. July 12. $5 members/$12 nonmembers, includes reception for The Saint John’s Bible. 1701 Pacific Ave, Tacoma. 253-272-4258, www.tacomaartmuseum.org

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