Voce was joined again this week by renowned early music scholar and performer Dr David Skinner for a masterclass on Tallis' Lamentations, which we perform on Sunday 17 March in Mayfair's Grosvenor Chapel.
An early music specialist based at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, David began our workshop session with an overview of the historical and religious context of the Lamentations. He wanted us to bear in mind the performance conventions that would have been the norm in Tallis's time - so that's no women, and very probably a significantly lower pitch. Well, the bass section was happy. But what about the rest of us?
Luckily for our sops and altos, we learned that modern choirs can achieve comparable effects by altering timbre and vowel sounds to achieve a uniformity of tone across all sections of the choir. After hearing David's demonstrations of passages from the works and exploring the various compositional features that characterise them, we set to work on our pronunciation, getting our consonants in tip-top shape to emphasise the text and add excitement to the texture of the music.
Our sound, needless to say, was transformed. It was a brilliant workshop and a fantastic end to our set of Passiontide rehearsals. As one of our singers said in the pub afterwards: "It was great! I feel inspired and ready for Sunday."
Voce and the Voce Chamber Orchestra perform Esenvalds, Macmillan and Tallis at 19.30 on Sunday 17 March at London's Grosvenor Chapel. Tickets are available online (with advance purchase discount) or at full price OTD (£15/12).