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The Sixteen, St Nicholas Chapel, King's Lynn

Without doubt one of The King’s Lynn Festival highlights has been the concert featuring the internationally renowned, but UK-based ensemble, ‘The Sixteen ‘ . Performances of Choral music are always popular in this part of the world but it was great to see a packed St. Nicholas’ Chapel, the audience listening to the music enthusiastically, both ancient and modern, by Byrd, Tallis, Morley, Orlando Gibbons, and then from more modern times, Britten, Tippett, and James MacMillan. Indeed, the group are now recognised as top specialists in the Baroque, Renaissance and Modern Choral repertoire.

An unnamed group of sixteen friends came together with Harry Christophers in 1977 to sing, and gave their first billed concert in 1979; they became ‘The Sixteen’, and now also have their own period-instrument Orchestra, and record on their own record label: Coro. Live performances, recordings and TV and Radio appearances are given regularly and ‘The Sixteen ‘ perform throughout the world, having visited China late last year.

At our Festival Concert the Choir sang unaccompanied, directed by their Associate Conductor Eamonn Dougan, professional Male and Female adult voices blending together in a conducive acoustic with clarity and style. The Sacred music particularly benefits from this quality, and although we all have slightly differing views on tempi ( especially in the more modern pieces), everything came together with ease.

I especially enjoyed the famous ‘Silver Swan’ by Orlando Gibbons, Benjamin Britten’s ‘Gloriana Dances’ ( a favourite of mine), and Tippett’s Five Spirituals from ‘A Child of Our Time’ (most movingly sung). The Renaissance pieces and works by James MacMillan ( a Lay Dominican), were performed with serenity and we were rewarded with an appropriate encore: Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus. I look forward to hearing their interpretation of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ on CD, purchased by me during the evening! Andy Tyler

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