Orlando ready to bloom at Firth Hall

Pictured is Angus Smith the New Music in The Round Artistic Director,who perform in The Crucible Theatres The Studio
Pictured is Angus Smith the New Music in The Round Artistic Director,who perform in The Crucible Theatres The Studio

TAKING to the Firth Hall stage next Tuesday, the celebrated Orlando Consort present music written around 600 years ago and a handful of works inspired by it metaphorically penned yesterday.

Further, it is all British music if you leave aside Arvo Pärt’s Summa (Credo) from 1958, while the contemporary Brits are Terry Mann: Kyrie Fragments (2000); Gavin Bryars: Super flumina (2000); Tarik O’Regan: St Andrews Responsories (2008); and Giles Swayne: Magnificat III (2008).

The Orlando Consort was formed in 1988 and two of the original four members remain, one of the being tenor Angus Smith who is now artistic director of Music in the Round.

The other is baritone Donald Greig, while the ‘new boys’ are countertenor Matthew Venner and tenor Mark Dobell, a familiar face in Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen.

The older music the Orlando are performing is described as being from the Middle Ages but it could just as easily be called early Renaissance as it all appears to date from the 1400s going by the sketchy birth and death dates of the composers.

With Latin titles, it’s all religious too, starting with an antiphon, Descendi in ortum meum by the most celebrated composer of the time John Dunstaple (Dunstable) – born circa 1390-died 1453.

A motet, Quam pulcra es seems to be the only surviving work of John Pyamour (died c1426), while Tota pulcra es by ‘Forest’ is probably John Forest (c1370-1446) and one of the six antiphons, plus a Credo, that survive by him.

Most English music of the time was lost with the Dissolution of the Monasteries and that that wasn’t had probably found its way to continental Europe.

Anna Mater matris Christi is a motet by John Plummer (c1410-c1483) and there are pieces by John Trouluffe (died c1473): Nasciens mater, and Walter Lambe (c1450-after 1504): Stella caeli.

Anonymous works are Kyrie – Deus creator omnium, and Agnus Dei from the Caput Mass (c1420-30), a Credo from a Fountains Abbey manuscript (c1420) and Ave Regina caelorum from the Ritson Manuscript – a choirbook (c1450).

The Orlando concert, in the Sheffield University Concert Season, is the last of the Past-Forward events looking at how the past informs the present put by university’s Faculty of Arts.