Vocal ensemble Tallis Scholars pairs a Renaissance masterwork with a new composition for imaginative program
Through exceptionally stunning recordings and performances, the Tallis Scholars has established itself as the leading advocate of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world and is widely renowned for its pristine sound. The ensemble returns to the Moss Arts Center with an imaginative program commissioned in part by the Moss on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m.
The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.
Called “the rock stars of Renaissance vocal music” by The New York Times, Tallis Scholars was founded in 1973 by director Peter Phillips, who has worked with the ensemble to create, through good tuning and blend, the purity and clarity of sound that he feels best serve the Renaissance repertoire, allowing every detail of the musical lines to be heard.
For the Moss performance, the ensemble bridges the 15th and 21st centuries, pairing a masterwork of Renaissance polyphony with a new composition by composer David Lang.
Antoine Brumel’s colossal “Earthquake Mass,” scored for 12 voices, is a marvel in its imagination and scale. The intricate, dense music comes alive through the clarity, precision, and purity of tone that has been the hallmark of the Tallis Scholars’ performances for decades. Brumel’s work is matched with Lang’s new work, “sun-centered.”
Lang, who is co-founder and co-artistic director of the groundbreaking new music collective Bang on a Can, has composed dozens of award-winning works for choir and voice — from chamber works to oratorios to opera — and received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for another a cappella work, “The Little Match Girl Passion.” His “sun-centered” is a response to Brumel’s mass, inspired by Galileo’s pursuit of truth, the relentless nature of human curiosity, and the perils of suppressing it. The mass is titled from a bit of chant, the words meaning "and the Earth moved," which immediately reminded Lang of Galileo, who after being tried for blasphemy for proving the Earth revolves around the sun, apparently muttered, "And yet it moves!"
The Moss Arts Center commissioned “sun-centered” for the Tallis Scholars in partnership with Cal Performances, Carnegie Hall, Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Stanford Live, and Concertgebouw Bruges (Belgium).
The Tallis Scholars performs in both sacred and secular venues, giving about 80 concerts each year. In 2013, the group celebrated its 40th anniversary with a world tour, performing 99 events in 80 venues across 16 countries. The group now looks ahead to its 50th anniversary in 2023. In 2020, Gimell Records celebrated 40 years of recording the group by releasing a remastered version of the 1980 recording of Allegri’s “Miserere.” As of the beginning of the cancellations caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the Tallis Scholars had made 2,327 appearances worldwide.
Recordings by the Tallis Scholars have attracted many awards throughout the world. In 1987, the recording of Josquin's “Missa La sol fa re mi” and “Missa Pange lingua” received Gramophone magazine’s Record of the Year award, the first recording of early music ever to win this coveted award. In 1989, the French magazine Diapason gave two of its Diapason d'Or de l'Année awards for the recordings of a mass and motets by Lassus and for Josquin's two masses based on the chanson “L'Homme armé.” The recording of Palestrina's “Missa Assumpta est Maria” and “Missa Sicut lilium” was awarded Gramophone's Early Music Award in 1991; the group received the 1994 Early Music Award for its recording of music by Cipriano de Rore and the same distinction again in 2005 for the recording of music by John Browne.
The Tallis Scholars was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2001, 2009, and 2010. In November 2012, the recording of Josquin's “Missa De beata virgine” and “Missa Ave maris stella” received a Diapason d’Or de l’Année and for its 40th anniversary the group was welcomed into the Gramophone Hall of Fame by public vote.
In a departure for the group, in 2015, it released an album of music by Arvo Pärt called “Tintinnabuli,” which received great international praise. The latest recording of Josquin and Bauldeweyn masses was released in 2019 and was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice.
This performance is supported in part by gifts from G. Davis Saunders Jr. and Dr. E. Fred Carlisle and Mrs. Elizabeth A. Obenshain.
This year, Virginia Tech marks its 150th year with an ongoing celebration of its impact and engagement. The arts are woven throughout the university's history and are a critically important part of its future. This performance by the Tallis Scholars is part of a range of special performances, exhibitions, and experiences happening throughout the month of April that demonstrate the incredible value of the arts and creative experiences at Virginia Tech.
Vocal workshop with students
Peter Phillips, the director of the Tallis Scholars, will listen to the Virginia Tech Chamber Singers perform works by Monteverdi, Howard Hanson, and Phillips’ ensemble and provide feedback on Renaissance vocal music performance technique.
Tickets for the performance are $25-$55 for general public and $10 for Virginia Tech students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.
The Moss Arts Center adheres to the guidelines of the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Tech in its operations. More information about these requirements is available on the Moss Arts Center website.
Paid parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.
If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org during regular business hours.