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Byrdsong Choir


Byrdsong, a small chamber choir of 14 singers from the Usk area of Monmouthshire, are the stars of the show at the Athelstan Museum next week (March 12).

Formed in 2016, the choir took their name from one of their favourite composers, William Byrd (1543-1623), who was widely considered to be one of the greatest composers of the Renaissance.

The choir will be performing The Only Pretty Ring Time – Music for Lent and Spring in Malmesbury’s Rausing Building, which was formerly the Moravian Church. 

So it is very apt that some of the music at the concert is from Czech composer, Leoš Janácek (1854-1928), who was inspired by Moravian and other Slavic musics.

Byrdsong choir member, Kathryn Clarke explained the idea behind the concert’s title: “We have used a line from William Shakespeare’s song: ‘It was a lover and his lass’ – ‘In springtime, the only pretty ring time, When birds do sing…’ We wanted to feature something seasonal as well as sacred and secular.”

The choir, which has performed in a variety of venues from village halls to grand cathedrals, has a repertoire of music spanning five centuries and will be singing early madrigals and motets by Monteverdi, Morley and Byrd; traditional songs from around the UK; Victorian part-songs by Stanford and Rheinberger and more recent choral works by Stopford and Goodall. 

Kathryn Clarke said: “Some of the songs will be very familiar to the audience and there will also be a chance for a bit of audience participation at the end of the evening!”

The selection of sacred and secular music from the 16th century to the present day will be performed a cappella(without musical accompaniment), but will be interspersed with six short piano pieces featuring pianist, Angi Turnbull. A relatively new member of the choir is conductor, Gareth Williams, who conducted the choir for the first time at a Victorian Christmas festive concert last December in the beautiful chapel at Tyntesfield near Bristol.

Sharon Nolan, Chair of Athelstan Museum, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Byrdsong to the Rausing Building, which is another beautiful place to listen to music and which has incredibly good acoustics. The first and last time we featured a musical event was back in 2019, so Byrdsong will be only the second time we have had a musical concert here.”

This exceptional musical event takes place at 7pm on March 12 in the Rausing Building, Malmesbury. Refreshments will be available, tickets cost £10 and can be purchased at: 

Another event set to take place at the Athelstan Museum is Slow Art Day on April 2 when attendees will be able to spend time looking at and delighting in beautiful artwork including the recently acquired Turner watercolour painting of Malmesbury Abbey.

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

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