Simply, Beautiful Choral Music.

Palestrina: Prince of Polyphony

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  • Price: $25/$15 Conc - Tickets available at the door from 3:00pm.
  • Date: Sat, Apr 29, 2017
  • Time: 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm
  • Venue: Holy Trinity Church, Launceston
  • Location: 34 Cameron St, Launceston


Allegri Ensemble is proud to present the second concert in its 2017 Season, in the wonderful atmosphere of Holy Trinity Church. Palestrina: Prince of Polyphony features works by the undisputed master of the Roman polyphonic style. This concert takes place in the intimate, historical ambience and stunning atmosphere of Holy Trinity Church.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born around 1525 in the town of Palestrina, near Rome. He studied and worked in Rome most of his life. His compositional work was influenced by Dufay, Josquin and Morales, and spent much of his career as musical director of the Julian Chapel in St Peter’s Basilica. He died in 1594 and was buried beneath the floor of the Basilica, although the location of his grave is now unknown.

This concert features two of Palestrina’s great masterworks, the Missa Papae Marcelli and Stabat Mater, together with a collection of motets. The Pope Marcellus Mass is unusual, in that it not only has a legend associated with it, but also an opera written about it. The legend revolves around the Council of Trent of 1562-3, which was reputed to have banned polyphony, because of the unintelligibility of the words. Palestrina’s Marcellus Mass, in which the word setting is remarkably clear, is said to have “saved polyphony” when it was performed at the Council, and convinced the council members that polyphony could be beautiful and intelligible. Hans Pfitzner’s opera Palestrina of 1917 deals with all the drama surround these legendary events. In reality, the situation was less dramatic: polyphony was not in any real danger of being banned, and Palestrina’s Mass was probably written long before the Council met to discuss the issues surrounding polyphonic music.

Stabat Mater for double choir, is a later composition, probably dating from around 1589, and is widely regarded as one of Palestrina’s greatest compositions. Written for the papal Choir, and performed exclusively by them for the next century, it is in four continuous sections, and is a setting of the 13th century poem depicting the Virgin Mary’s vigil by the cross.

The other works on the program, all motets, include Tu es petrus, in two sections for 6 voices; the very lovely and well-known Sicut cervus (As the deer longs for the water); Haec dies, a bright and energetic motet for Easter Day with Alleluias in triple time; Loquebantur variis linguis for Pentecost; and concludes with the vibrant energy of Exsultate Deo.

Allegri Ensemble hopes you will join us for this concert featuring some of the great polyphonic marvels of Western Music.