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.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

William Byrd Festival: "William Byrd: Loyal Heart or Traitor?"

We welcome the Writtle Singers this evening for the first time to Stondon Massey Church for their concert. ‘William Byrd: Loyal Heart or Traitor?’ explores in words and music Byrd's recusant Catholic faith and his honoured relationship with Queen Elizabeth I.

The Programme

trad. Fanfare

Claude Gervaise (c.1525 – c.1560): Bransle Double

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth

William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623): O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth c. 1577

Protestant worship

William Byrd: Kyrie from Mass for four voices c.1592

Catholic Persecution and Edmund Campion

William Byrd: Why do I use my paper, inke and pen c.1581/2

The Lord's song in a strange land

Philippe de Monte (1521 – 1603): Super flumina Babylonis (psalm 136 vv 1,3,4,2) 1583

Foreign correspondent

William Byrd: Quomodo cantabimus (psalm 136 vv 4-7) 1584


William Byrd: Gloria from Mass for four voices


Thomas Weelkes (c.1575 – 1623): Since Robin Hood

Recusant catholics

William Byrd: Credo from Mass for four voices

The Bye Plot and the Main Plot

William Byrd: Sanctus & Benedictus from Mass for four voices

The Gunpowder Plot

William Byrd: Rejoice, rejoice! 1589

Loyal hearts or traitors?

William Byrd: Agnus Dei from Mass for four voices

The Performers

Writtle Singers

Conductor: Christine Gwynn


Sopranos: Glyn Buckmaster, Alison Connolly, Jenny Haxell, Clare Oddy, Frances Quintrell, Jean Rose, Liz Saward, Helen Sismey

Altos: Audrey Cassidy, Anne Fradd, Gavin Oddy, Elizabeth Tiplin, Nanette Wright

Tenors: Stephen Burdge, Graham Frankel, Martin Mason, Graham Reeve

Basses: Clive Beale, John Buckmaster, Martin Clarke, Peter Quintrell, Andrew Taylor

Writtle Singers is a chamber choir based near Chelmsford, Essex. In addition to featuring a diverse range of smaller, unaccompanied pieces, the Singers’ repertoire embraces many larger scale works, recently: J S Bach Mass in B minor, Mozart Mass in C minor, Rutter The Wind in the Willows, Finzi In Terra Pax and, Chelmsford Cathedral last year, Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Janáček Otče Náš and Panufnik Westminster Mass.

2004 saw the choir’s first continental tour, which featured high mass in the magnificent cathedral of Antwerp. Subsequent trips have included performances in Prague, York Minster, Bolton Abbey, Caius College Cambridge, and, just last month, in Zurich. Writtle Singers has performed live on BBC radio and recorded three CDs: Wrelax was released in 2001, Wrejoice! (Christmas music) in 2003 and Wroving, musical highlights from their tours, in 2009.

Christine Gwynn ~ Conductor

Christine read music at Southampton University and subsequently studied at the Guildhall with Norman Beedie, laying the foundations for a freelance career involving many facets and styles of music. Christine has been musical director of Writtle Singers since 1997. In addition to an extensive choral repertoire, Christine’s conducting experience embraces orchestral direction and music theatre, from Dido & Aeneas to West Side Story and contemporary pieces – a wide variety of experience which she has brought to bear on her work in the choral field. In 2008 Christine co-founded Arbutus Music which seeks to encourage and enhance participation in group singing within the community; she also leads workshops for pianists and is musical director of Valentine Singers and Jericho Ensemble.

Martyn Richards ~ Narrator

Martyn has narrated many Writtle Singers’ concerts, with readings ranging from scripture to the children’s tale by Rutter, Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, as well as historical scripts around several Tudor projects. As a speaker of French and Italian he has helped with translations of choral works for his local choir. Martyn is a specialist in primary education as well as a choral singer himself, and has a special love of the sacred choral repertoire. Writtle Singers are delighted to be working with him once again.

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