BYRD IS THE WORD
The Shakespeare of Music
This is William Byrd — not just the owner of The Renaissance's most badass beard, but also the man thought by many to have been the Shakespeare of music. And you thought that was Chris De Burgh. Leading British choir and early music ensemble, Ex Cathedra, are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Byrd in a special concert at Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday, February 5. Bill lived through brutal times. Haven't we all? Ruled by five very different monarchs he rose to be the leading court composer of his age, whilst deftly managing to compose sumptuous spiritual music in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions. At a time when to be a follower of the "wrong" religion could lead to the death penalty, and himself a fervent Catholic, Byrd seems to have been protected from Protestant backlash by his enormous talent. On the night Ex Cathedra will perform a wide range of his work and will include Thomas Tallis’ legendary 40-part Spem In Alium — a soaring, uplifting and truly monumental piece that has achieved cult status. Tallis, you see, was Byrd's biggest influence, a bit like McCartney was De Burgh's. The performance is informed by recent research into early music by our own Royal Birmingham
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