Monday, 2 May 2011

A Celebration of the Life and Work of William Byrd in his home village of Stondon Massey Essex

William Byrd Festival - Stondon Massey, Essex
The Elizabethan composer William Byrd, whose music featured in the last Counterpoint concert at Buckfast, lived for the last 30 years of his life (until 1623) at Stondon Place in Stondon Massey, Brentwood in Essex. From Stondon Place Byrd was able to attend clandestine Catholic services held by his patron Sir John Petre at nearby Ingatestone Hall. Byrd would have been in no confusion about the dangers of non-conformist worship, as an undercover priest at Ingatestone had been executed only ten year's before he arrived, in 1582.
Eager William Byrd enthusiasts
outside Stondon Massey parish church
The Reverend Toni Smith, who lives in the village of Blackmore near Ingatestone, is the incumbent of Stondon Massey's Anglican Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul. Her Parochial Church Council, in a spirit of reconciliation - and to help raise funds to restore the church roof, and for a garden of remembrance - are holding a week of celebration of the life and work of William Byrd from Saturday 7th to Sunday 15th May this year.
PCC member Andrew Smith appeared on BBC Essex to discuss the festival on their breakfast show. (Fast-forward to 1hr24mins in to hear Andrew's interview.) Ian Wyatt's reference to Byrd living 'half a century ago' should actually have been 'half a millenium ago'!
The Stondon Singers perform a memorial choral concert for the anniversary of Byrd's death in July each year. According to the programme a May festival is, at least partially, inspired by Byrd's 'Merry Month of May'. Whatever the reason, this will be a great festival of remembrance for one of the greatest English renaissance composers - and should raise awareness of his work in his home county!
Here in Devon, David Acres' 'Counterpoint' choir will not, sadly, be including any of William Byrd's music in their next concert at Buckfast Abbey (details below write-up of 'St John Passion'), although the last concert 'Tallis is Dead and Music Dies' (scroll down link-page for details) was split equally between the work of  William Byrd and his mentor at the Chapel Royal, Thomas Tallis. (Tallis, also Catholic, had been appointed 'Gentleman of the Chapel' before the English Reformation, which afforded him and Byrd some protection.) The title of the Counterpoint concert refers to Byrd's memorial work, composed after the death of Tallis in 1585.

The Stondon Massey William Byrd Festival will include several events to commemorate his life and work:

Dr Christopher Tinker conducts the Stondon Singers
Sunday 1 May Holy Communion featured 'Mass for Three Voices' by Byrd.
The third edition of 'William Byrd: Some Notes' by Rev E. H. Lisle Reeve (1858-1936), and Andrew Smith's biography of Reeve, 'The Last Gentleman Clergyman of Stondon Massey', were on sale after the service.

Saturday 7 May 4pm & 7.30pm
Concert by the Stondon Singers
Talk by Tudor music expert Richard Turbet

Saturday 14 May 7.30pm
Concert by the Writtle Singers

Anyone interested to know more about the festival
can contact the Church Office: 01277 821464

Very best wishes to Andrew for the Festival Andrew - Hoping to hear how it all went!

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for putting our William Byrd Festival on your map. For more about the Festival, William Byrd and Stondon Massey in Essex visit - and, of course, I will link this item and let you know how the Festival goes. Andrew Smith. Festival Organiser