Allegri’s Miserere – and the most sublime mistake in choral music?
In our late-evening concert on 9 February at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the JCS will sing the psalm setting Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri – that truly iconic choral work from the late Renaissance. For some time it was reserved for the exclusive use of the Choir of the Sistine Chapel; both Mozart and Mendelssohn reputedly transcribed the music from memory after hearing it performed in the Vatican. The edition we are performing represents a journey through the history of the piece from Allegri’s original unadorned composition through the various editions up to the now-familiar version with its top C for the soprano, which came about because of a mistake in copying!
Our programme includes Miserere settings for double choir by Zoltán Kodály and Alexander Campkin, with other works for Passiontide by Victoria (O vos omnes and Amicus Meus), Anerio (Adoramus te Christe and Christus factus est) and Palestrina (Stabat Mater). Finally, we sing two pieces by modern English composers: David Mitcham’s setting of Psalm 121 and Sir John Tavener’s powerful combination of words from Hamlet and the Orthodox liturgy in his Song for Athene, written in memory of actress Athene Hariades and most memorably performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Do join us in the candlelit intimacy of St Martin-in-the-Fields for this choral feast, part of the Brandenburg Choral Festival of London. Tickets are now available from the St Martin’s box office – call 020 7766 1100 or book online.