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The Sixteen

June 4, 2010

I went to a sublime concert last night at St Chad’s Church in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

St Chads church Shrewsbury

St Chads, Shrewsbury (photo by Chris Bayley)

The concert was given by vocal ensemble The Sixteen as part of their 2010 Choral Pilgrimage.

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen

The Sixteen

I first heard of The Sixteen through the BBC Four series “Sacred Music”, presented by Simon Russell Beale where the ensemble performed works by the various composers explored in each programme.

The programme of works by Tudor composers John Sheppard, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd was utterly wonderful.    The singing was superb, but what really made the concert really special was The Sixteen’s founder and conductor Harry Christophers.

Harry Christophers (photo by Stu Rosner)

We had seats right at the front and to the side so had a great view of Harry in full flight as he conducted.   Part conjuror, part matador, he was fascinating to watch as he guided the singers through the various pieces.  His passion for the music was obvious and inspirational.

It took me back to my days as a boy chorister (no sniggering).


My choirmaster back then was a man called Peter Baldock who, to me, was as inspirational as Harry Christophers must be to his singers.  Mr Baldock taught me so much about singing and depsite the fact that our church choir wasn’t the best in the land he never seemed to lose his infectious enthusiasm for music.  He passed away some years ago, but I often think of him still when I’m singing because of what he gave me all those years ago.

Hmmm…  I seem to have drifted into wistful introspection, but perhaps that’s one of the things that all great art does.  I certainly look forward to catching Harry Christophers and The Sixteen again soon and would urge you to do likewise if you get the chance.

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