The London Motet and Madrigal Club's annual summer visit is held today exploring the music and places associated with William Byrd in Essex. Leaving Shenfield railway station by coach, the party will come along the lanes to St Peter & St Paul Church here in Stondon Massey, the village where the great composer lived in semi-retirement until his death in 1623. After morning refreshments the group will be entertained with a short talk about William Byrd and his association with the parish. This is the first time our local historian has given a talk on the subject. He is the author of ‘William Byrd: Some Notes’ a booklet on sale in aid of church funds. Following the talk the focus will be on singing. After lunch the LMMC move on to Ingatestone Hall, still the home of the Petre family where Byrd was their musician.
The Club was formed in 1942 for “the cultivation of the art of singing motets, madrigals and other similar music”. They sing for pleasure. Annual visits have taken place since the early 1960s to churches and stately homes associated, where possible, with the great madrigalists. Their last visit to Stondon Massey was in 1988, so they make a very welcome return thanks to a connection with the Rector and an LMMC member, a former organist in the parish where she came from. Members of the congregation are delighted to act as hosts in return for a donation to church funds.
On their very first outing to this part of Essex in 1965 the Club sang music by Byrd and his pupils Morley and Tomkins, in the Long Gallery of Ingatestone Hall. They then sang the ‘Agnus Dei’ from Byrd’s Four Part Mass and music by Tallis “in the fine acoustic of Stondon Church”.
This year the LMMC will sing an all Byrd selection: anthems in the morning at Stondon, and madrigals in the afternoon at Ingatestone.
For more about the London Motet and Madrigal Club visit http://www.londonmotetandmadrigalclub.org.uk/Home_Page.html