Tenebrae Promotional Pack

Page 1


There is a hunger for what this finely polished group has to offer. The New York Times

A concert by the British choir Tenebrae is more than a performance. It’s an experience that envelops the audience… this is one of the best choirs in the world. St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Described as “phenomenal” (The Times) and “devastatingly beautiful” (Gramophone Magazine), award-winning choir Tenebrae is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, renowned for its passion and precision.

Under the direction of Nigel Short, Tenebrae performs at major festivals and venues across the globe, including the BBC Proms, Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh International Festival, Leipzig Gewandhaus (Germany), Spivey Hall (US) and Melbourne Recital Centre (Australia). The choir is renowned for its highly-acclaimed interpretations of choral music ranging from the hauntingly passionate works of the Renaissance through to choral masterpieces of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and is a dedicated advocate for contemporary composers. In 2012 Tenebrae was the first-ever ensemble to be multi-nominated in the same category for the BBC Music Magazine Awards, securing the accolade of ‘Best Choral Performance’ for the choir’s recording of Victoria’s Requiem Mass of 1605. The following year Tenebrae’s Fauré Requiem with the London Symphony Orchestra was nominated for the Gramophone Awards, and in 2016 Tenebrae received its second BBC Music Magazine Award for a recording of Brahms and Bruckner Motets. In 2018 the choir received a Grammy nomination for Music of the Spheres, its album of part songs from the British Isles.

Tenebrae is frequently engaged with the world’s finest orchestras, regularly appearing alongside the Academy of Ancient Music, Aurora Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, and also curates an annual Holy Week Festival in partnership with St John’s Smith Square, London. Alongside concert performances, the choir presents its inspirational workshop method, The Tenebrae Effect, designed to challenge and advance every participant in a friendly environment by instilling skills essential to a Tenebrae performance. ‘Passion and Precision’ are Tenebrae’s core values. Through its continued dedication to performance of the highest quality, Tenebrae’s vision is to deliver dramatic programming, flawless performances and unforgettable experiences, allowing audiences around the world to be moved by the power and intimacy of the human voice.

NIGEL SHORT Artistic Director and conductor Nigel Short has earned widespread acclaim for his performance and recording work with leading orchestras and ensembles across the world.

A former member of renowned vocal ensemble The King’s Singers (1994–2000), in 2001 Nigel formed Tenebrae, a virtuosic choir that combines the passion of a cathedral choir with the precision of a chamber ensemble. Under his direction, Tenebrae has collaborated with internationally acclaimed orchestras and instrumentalists and now enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles. To date, Nigel has conducted the Academy of Ancient Music, Aurora Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, English Chamber Orchestra, English Concert, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble and Britten Sinfonia. He has directed the London Symphony Orchestra alongside Tenebrae in a live recording of Fauré’s Requiem, which was nominated for the Gramophone Awards (2013), and other orchestral recordings include Mozart’s Requiem and Ave Verum Corpus with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and music by Bernstein, Stravinsky and Zemlinsky with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, described as a “master stroke of programming” (Financial Times). Recent guest conducting appearances include the BBC Singers, Leipzig’s MDR Rundfunkchor and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble.

Signum’s current roster includes many excellent ensembles but the choral jewel in the crown is surely Tenebrae – Nigel Short’s outstanding chamber choir. Gramophone Magazine

Short has vast recording experience and has conducted for many of the world’s major labels, including Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI Classics, LSO Live, Signum and Warner Classics. In 2018, he received a Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Choral Performance’ for Tenebrae’s album of parts songs from the British Isles, Music of the Spheres. As a Gramophone award-winning producer, Short works with many of the UK’s leading professional choirs and vocal ensembles including Alamire, Ex Cathedra, Gallicantus and The King’s Singers.


Tenebrae’s repertoire spans over five hundred years, encompassing the ethereal serenity of Renaissance polyphony, the dark richness of the nineteenth century, and new commissions from some of today’s leading composers. The following programmes show the choir at its very best, encapsulating the Passion and Precision for which Tenebrae has earned its international reputation.

Listen on Spotify Listen on SoundCloud Watch on YouTube


Path of Miracles Recognised as Tenebrae’s signature work, and hailed as “an evocative odyssey” (The Times), Path of Miracles by Joby Talbot was the choir’s first major commission. To accompany its revival, Tenebrae has commissioned a unique new choral work by Owain Park, Footsteps, which allows Tenebrae to perform alongside choirs of varying abilities local to touring venues. The four movements of Talbot’s Path of Miracles are focused on the main staging posts of the Camino Frances – the most enduring route of the great Pilgrimage to Santiago. Candlelight, singing from memory and an imaginative use of the concert space guarantees Tenebrae at its dramatic best.

1. Joby Talbot: Sample from Movements 1 (Roncesvalles) and 3 (León) (Joby Talbot Path of Miracles / Owain Park Footsteps – Signum 2017) 04:31 2. Joby Talbot: Sample from Movement 4 (Santiago) (Joby Talbot Path of Miracles / Owain Park Footsteps – Signum 2017) 07:30

A musical miracle… it’s a tour de force and absolutely stunning. - Choir and Organ Magazine


A Hymn of Heavenly Beauty Tenebrae offers two versions of this programme, both of which showcase the opulent soundscape of the Russian orthodox, the prayerful intimacy of contemporary English masters, and the soaring contrapuntal lines of the late Renaissance. The original ‘Hymn of Heavenly Beauty’ features Allegri’s haunting Miserere alongside a cappella works by Sir John Tavener, Harris’ spectacular Faire is the Heaven, and Lotti’s celebrated Crucifixus. Due to its widespread popularity, from 2020 we are also offering a second programme of hymns and prayers, including Britten’s whimsical Hymn to St Cecilia and Howell’s Take Him Earth for Cherishing, as well as European masterpieces from Verdi, Brahms, and Rachmaninov. 3. John Tavener: The Lamb (Allegri Miserere – Signum 2006) 06:11 4. Gregorio Allegri: Miserere, mei Deus (Film produced and edited by Jon Coates) 05:29

A must for all connoisseurs of the finest unaccompanied choral singing… - The Telegraph


Russian Treasures Russian choral music has been a powerful feature in Tenebrae’s concert performances since the choir’s inception. Inspired by a collection of manuscripts collected by Nigel Short, this programme includes works from two of the greatest names in Russian music, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, as well as gems by lesser-known composers such as Chesnokov, Golovanov and Kalinnikov. These works, rarely sung outside Russia, evoke a rich sound-world of great depth and beauty.

5. Sergei Rachmaninov: Rejoice, O Virgin (Ave Maria) (Russian Treasures – Bene Arte 2014) 03:06

The peak was reached in Rachmaninov’s majestic setting of blessed is the man, the most perfect demonstration of the choir’s two watchwords, almost their slogan: Passion, Precision. - Classic FM


Humanity and Liberty One glance at the global state of geopolitics and it becomes clear that man fails to learn the lesson that history so easily teaches us: namely that little is ever gained from war but there is much to be lost. Francis Poulenc composed his sensational Figure Humaine about his beloved but besieged Paris; Rudolf Mauersberger wrote his dedications to choir boys lost amidst the rubble and ruins of Dresden; and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote his Prayers from a prison camp. No matter what the outcome of war there are no true winners, and this programme is a prayer to peace: the longing for it and the beauty, innocence and simplicity that it brings.

6. Francis Poulenc: Figure Humaine – I. Beintot (Figure Humaine – Signum 2010) 02:44

Poulenc had vocal expertise in mind when he wrote his choral music, and that is what he gets in this fine selection… all performed with colour and skill by Tenebrae. - The Daily Telegraph


Miserere, mei Deus Tenebrae presents some of the most exquisite works of the Renaissance alongside Sir James MacMillan’s contemporary settings of the Tenebrae Responsories. Allegri’s iconic Miserere, mei Deus is surely one of the most well-loved works in the choral canon, and Byrd’s setting of Ne irascaris domine is a heart-rending reflection on the fate of the Catholic Church in sixteenth-century England. These stunning early works are complemented by the searing harmonic language of MacMillan’s three Tenebrae responses and his own interpretation of the Miserere.

7. Gregorio Allegri: Miserere, mei Deus (Film produced and edited by Jon Coates) 05:29

In these exquisite performances Tenebrae reaffirms its reputation as one of the leading exponents of Renaissance music. - The Financial Times


Sounds of the Solstice This dramatic programme charts a journey through the seasons from dark to light, centring around the winter and summer solstices. The coldest winter is captured in Maxwell Davies’ O Magnum Mysterium and Poulenc’s chilling Un soir de neige, set alongside a new commission for male voices from acclaimed British composer Joanna Marsh. Ešenvalds’ ethereal Stars sets a new tone before Holst’s Hymns from the Rig Veda (written for female voices and harp) hail the coming of spring, and the programme culminates with John Rutter’s heartfelt thanks to God, Hymn to the Creator of Light.

8. Edward Elgar: O Wild West Wind (Music of the Spheres: Part Songs from the British Isles – Signum 2016) 03:57

Journeys of discovery, intensity and character deliver an incremental power which draws as much on tranquillity as any display of sheer vocal panache – which they also happen to have in spades. - BBC Radio 3


Songs of Farewell Tenebrae brings you two programmes based around Parry’s evocative Songs of Farewell. Firstly, ‘Music of the Spheres’, the choir’s recording of which received a Grammy nomination in 2018. This programme celebrates a selection of the greatest choral works from the British Isles, where Shakespeare, Shelley, Byron, Tennyson and Milton are the inspiration of renowned composers such as Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Holst and Stanford. Secondly, a moving World War One commemoration featuring music by Gurney, Howells and Vaughan Williams together with Schoenberg’s rarely performed Friede auf Erden.

9. Hubert Parry: My soul, there is a country (Songs of Farewell – Signum 2011) 03:52

Technically the singing is impeccable without being at all effortful or studied… of this programme’s type, I can’t envisage hearing anything better. - The Guardian


Brahms and Bruckner Motets Based on Tenebrae’s BBC Music Magazine award-winning album, this programme, which can be performed with organ and trombones, includes Brahms’ “Geistliches Lied” and “How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair” from the German Requiem, as well as Bruckner’s Locus Iste and Christus factus est. A mixed a cappella programme entitled ‘The Romantic Legacy of Renaissance Polyphony’ is also available, pairing this repertoire and the music of Lobo, Victoria and Allegri.

10. Johannes Brahms: Geistliches Lied, Op.30 (Brahms and Bruckner Motets – Signum 2015) 05:55 11. Anton Bruckner: Locus Iste (Film produced and edited by Jon Coates) 03:42

A beautifully balanced and contrasted programme… what superb singing. - BBC Music Magazine


Christmas with Tenebrae Celebrate the yuletide season with two festive programmes which are a musical breath of fresh air at Christmas. ‘A Very English Christmas’ heralds the talents of brilliant English composers, including arrangements by Jonathan Rathbone and Simon Preston alongside traditional carols and heart-warming festive favourites. ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ features Benjamin Britten’s much-loved choral sequence of the same name, performed here in its version for female voices and complemented by Joanna Marsh’s In Winter’s House, commissioned by Tenebrae in 2019 for its tenors and basses.

12. Franz Gruber arr. Jonathan Rathbone: Silent Night (What Sweeter Music – Signum 2009) 04:07 13. Christopher Robinson: Rejoice and Be Merry (A Very English Christmas – Bene Arte 2015) 01:55

One of the best discs to cross my desk this year, “A Very English Christmas” features the beautiful voices and excellent musicianship of the British choir Tenebrae. - St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Tenebrae works regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras, including Aurora Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, and the Academy of Ancient Music. Its live recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra have achieved critical acclaim, with its FaurÊ Requiem proclaimed the best on disc by Gramophone Magazine.

Listen on Spotify Listen on SoundCloud Watch on YouTube


Fauré: Requiem In this programme Fauré’s Requiem is paired with Bach’s Partita in D minor and a selection of chorales. Fauré’s Requiem is a work of serenity, joy and liberation. In finding a sense of inner stillness in this composition Fauré crafted a work of astonishing beauty which can be seen no better than in the ‘Pie Jesu’. Bach’s craftsmanship is demonstrated in his second violin partita which is interspersed with chorales. The work culminates in a reconstruction of the Ciaconna which highlights the hidden chorale themes within this fascinating piece.

14. Gabriel Fauré: Libera Me London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble (Fauré Requiem – LSO Live 2012) 04:53

I have no hesitation in labelling this the very best Fauré Requiem on disc... In short, this is a devastatingly beautiful performance. - Gramophone Magazine


Handel: Messiah Tenebrae has performed Handel’s masterpiece with leading orchestras across the world, including at the Halle Handel Festival with the Academy of Ancient Music, at Cadogan Hall in London with the English Chamber Orchestra, in live recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, and in a series of performances across the USA.

16. George Frideric Handel: For unto us a child is born London Symphony Orchestra (Handel Messiah – LSO Live 2007) 04:06

The choral singing from Tenebrae is jaw-droppingly beautiful. - The Guardian


Tenebrae reveals itself as one of those exceptional choirs whose individual singers have been moulded into a single superbly sensitive and responsive musical instrument. The Telegraph


Tenebrae’s consort programmes highlight the vocal quality of the individuals who make up the choir’s trademark sound while creating an intimate concert experience. Encompassing music from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, these programmes are conceived for smaller groups of 6-14 musicians, allowing our singers to demonstrate their instinctive ensemble skills and masterful solo abilities.

Listen on Spotify Listen on SoundCloud Watch on YouTube


Spanish Glories of the Sixteenth Century Tenebrae presents its BBC Music Magazine award-winning interpretation of Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Requiem Mass for six voices. The programme also features a selection from Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories and Lamentations for Holy Saturday as well as the captivating Versa est in luctum by his contemporary Alonso Lobo.

17. Tomás Luis de Victoria: Requiem Mass, 1605 – Kyrie (Requiem Mass, 1605 – Signum 2011) 03:04 18. Alonso Lobo: Versa est in luctum (Film produced and edited by Jon Coates) 05:33

Victoria called on all his imaginative resources in this Requiem, and Tenebrae interprets them magnificently. - The Daily Telegraph


Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories The Tenebrae service is one of the most atmospheric in the liturgy, featuring candles which are slowly extinguished until only one is left, symbolising the Light of the World. It has inspired some of the most exquisite music for Lent, and Gesualdo’s settings of the Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday paint the story of Christ’s Passion with almost unbearable directness. Tenebrae offers two programmes built around Gesualdo’s masterpiece. In the first, the Responsories are set alongside two of Bach’s most masterful motets, and James MacMillan’s contemporary setting of the Miserere, which echoes Gesualdo’s music in its raw harmonic language. In the second, Victoria’s own setting of the responses provide the ideal counterpoint to Gesualdo’s shock tactics in their serenity and poise.

19. Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday - Sicut ovis ad occasionem (Gesualdo and Victoria – Archiv 2013) 03:54

Unaccompanied choral singing comes no better than this: in blend, accuracy, precision, commitment. - The Guardian


Medieval Chant and Tallis Lamentations A programme representing the daily duties of a singer in a Medieval English Cathedral from late afternoon until dusk. The hypnotic rhythm of antiphonal psalms, the familiarity of ancient hymns and the tranquillity of unaccompanied plainsong processions allow us to appreciate the beauty of this timeless music. Tallis’ intensely moving Lamentations of Jeremiah is programmed alongside medieval chant to highlight a stark contrast in style as one hears Tallis’ contrapuntal textures against the simplistic beauty of Gregorian chant.

20. Thomas Talls: Lamentations of Jeremiah I (Medieval Chant and Tallis Lamentations – Bene Arte 2014) 03:12

The singing of the gentle psalms is hypnotically pure. - The Observer


Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars ‘Sun Moon, Sea and Stars’ is an international collection of original works and arrangements by Bob Chilcott and some of his most talented colleagues from the choral world, such as Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Alexander L’Estrange. This wideranging celebration of choral settings encompasses archetypal English folk song, and new versions of French, Finnish and Japanese traditional melodies alongside classics from the Great American Songbook and The Beatles, all packaged in the richest of styles, scorings and moods.

21. Bob Chilcott: Thou, My Love, Art Fair (Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars – Bene Arte 2015) 03:45

22. George Gershwin arr. Bob Chilcott: Fascinating Rhythm (Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars – Bene Arte 2015) 01:23

We are taken from the seductive heights of ‘en La Macarenita’ and ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ to the dreamy romance of Walton’s ‘Touch Her Soft Lips’… Kick your shoes off, sit back and enjoy. - The Guardian

TENEBRAE MANAGEMENT Alexandra Davies General Manager c/o Storey International House 7 High Street London W5 5DB, UK

M: +44 (0)7584 193849 E: alexandra@tenebrae-choir.com T: +44 (0)20 3384 0368 E: info@tenebrae-choir.com W: www.tenebrae-choir.com

AGENTS France and Belgium Vincent Lafourcade Les Concerts Parisiens 21 rue Bergère 75009 Paris France

T: +33 01 48 24 16 97 F: +33 01 48 24 16 29 M: +33 06 68 81 20 08 E: vincent@concertsparisiens.fr W: www.concertsparisiens.fr

Germany, Austria and Switzerland Thomas Märki Müller & Pavlik Artistic Management Byfangweg 22 CH 4051 Basel Switzerland

T: +41 61 273 70 10 M: +41 79 581 46 43 E: thomas@artisticmanagement.eu W: www.artisticmanagement.eu

Spain Jorge Jiménez Bocanegra imusica Téllez 54, 1º Planto, oficina 4B 28007 Madrid España

T: +34 91 506 1531 F: +34 91 506 1532 M: +34 636 49 02 61 E: jorgej@e-imusica.com W: www.e-imusica.com

Italy Dario Mannino MAMUSIC Via Faentina 238B 50133 Firenze Italy

T: +32 484 42 17 64 M: +39 338 4682155 E: dario@mamusic.it W: www.mamusic.it

North America Christie Starrett 6 Sunset Drive Hopewell, NJ 08525 USA

M: +1 (917) 557 0001 E: christie.choirs@gmail.com


Tenebrae is a working name of The Tenebrae Choir, Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 7549890 (Limited by Guarantee), Registered Charity No. 1142138

Photography Page 1: Sim Canetty-Clarke Page 2, 6 & 26: Chris O’Donovan