Welcome to our Festival blog

We are a small congregation who organised a highly successful 'William Byrd Festival' in May 2011 to celebrate the life and work of the village's Elizabethan composer, William Byrd (c.1540 - 1623). In 2012 we played host to the world-famous choir The Cardinall's Musick under their director Andrew Carwood.

This website contains everything you need to know about William Byrd and his links with Stondon Massey. The church is open for services, of course, and on the second Sunday afternoon in the month during the summer.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Writtle Singers 'Top of the Bill' as Second Weekend of Festival is Announced

We are delighted to announce that the Writtle Singers, a local chamber choir, will be giving a Concert at Stondon Massey Church on Saturday 14 May (at 7.30pm) as part of a second weekend of the forthcoming William Byrd Festival.

Writtle Singers chamber choir, conductor Christine Gwynn, has gained a reputation for high quality and innovative performances, both locally and further afield, including Cambridge, York and London’s Southbank Centre. As well as making 3 CDs and broadcasting on BBC Essex, Writtle Singers have toured abroad to Antwerp and Prague and will be performing in Zurich in April 2011. The Singers have a wide repertoire and have recently performed Byrd’s music in commemoration of ‘Gunpowder, Treason and Plot’, the failed Catholic uprising against King and Parliament in 1605. Hear them on 14th May.

A review of their recent Concert, 'Gunpowder Treason and Plot' is given here.

To hold a concert on Bonfire Night (Saturday 6 November), with the sound of fireworks clearly audible all round Writtle Church, would have ordinarily been total madness. However the juxtaposition of the Anglican and nation's celebration that the King had been saved with the intimate Catholic mass - and other works - in a place of peace with invited (though paid) guests was stunning. The noise outside added to the secrecy and urgency of worship inside. I mention worship because at many points in the programme the music crossed from musical to spiritual. When, in the Credo, the choir sang "Et resurrexit tertia die" the joy of salvation was almost tangible. Byrd's work was sung with conviction. The Agnus Dei, sung away from the stage in the chancel was a fantastic piece of theatre. The script was quite something too. "Martyrs or traitors"? I had an interesting conversation over the post concert glass of wine comparing 9/11 with 5/11.

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