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.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Everything's Up To Date In Stondon Massey ...

“Everything’s up to date in Stondon Massey

They gone about as far as they can go”

In 2008 Stondon Church hosted a local history and music production called ‘Through Changing Scenes’. One of the items sung was a parody on lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein called ‘Everything’s up to date in Kansas City’. So it seems an irony that the William Byrd Festival should receive recognition from a church in Kansas City.

In drawing the inaugural William Byrd Festival to a close it seems appropriate to say ‘Everything’s up to date at Stondon Massey’ but to suggest that ‘They gone about as far as they can go’ may not be the case.

The Festival has shown that whilst William Byrd’s music is something of a niche market, and ambitious for a small church to host two weekends of fund raising based almost exclusively on his life and music, there is sufficient interest to fill a church three times over for concerts and secure a web readership around the world, particularly in America.

Many people commented during the Festival that insufficient prominence has been given to Byrd and that Stondon Massey in Essex should make more of its connections. The William Byrd Festival has helped the process but also highlighted to a wider public that the village where he lived is still alive and well though welcomes support to maintain its church and immediate surroundings.

Financially the William Byrd Festival has been successful too in that it has secured enough money for the Garden of Remembrance to be built in St Peter & St Paul’s churchyard.

... and we were pleased to learn that the Choir of Westminster Abbey sung Byrd's 'Justorum Animae' when Barack Obama, the President of America, laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown warrior (yesterday, Tuesday 24 May 2011) as part of his state visit to the United Kingdom.

Our small Committee meets tonight to decide where to go from here.

This site will remain open to bring news of future Byrd related events and to receive your comments.

For our small village where the great composer lived for about thirty years until his death in 1623, we can “claim Byrd for our own”.

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