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Episode 1

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Monday 14 May 2012

For as long as we've had church music itself a Chapel Royal has been serving the musical and spiritual needs of British monarchs. Scarcely a single British composer of note for centuries failed to be associated with it. Byrd, Purcell, Handel, Gibbons, Locke, even Sir Arthur Sullivan of G&S fame all gave their best to adorn state occasions and royal worship, right up to the recent wedding of William and Kate.

This week, Donald Macleod takes five snapshots of the Chapel's itinerant musicians, following their fortunes as they navigate a perilous route from monarch to monarch. Often their careers prosper, with grand masques for Queen Elizabeth I and battlefield triumphs under Henry V. But there are periods of near collapse too, most notably the years of the Civil War which almost finished the Chapel for good. And we hear the written testimonies of many who gave their best years to the choir, most of them thankful for the education it gave them but also some with dark memories of bullying amongst the ranks.

We begin in 1520, and a royal 'G2' long before the G10 was ever invented. Henry VIII is in France for the signing of a royal treaty. No expense is spared as a 'porta-palace' is constructed complete with a fountain gushing with claret. It's an occasion when his chapel musicians must show what they are made of.

Music Played

13 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Anon

    Anon Anon - Fanfare

    Performer: Philip PICKETT - Director Performer: New London Consort

    BBC Recording

  • Image for William Cornysh

    William Cornysh Adieu my heartes lust

    Performer: Musica Antiqua Of London

    Amon RA, CD-SAR 51, 6

  • Image for William Cornysh

    William Cornysh Gaude virgo mater Christi for 4 voices

    Performer: Andrew CARWOOD - Director Performer: Cardinall's Musick

    ASV, CD GAU 164-

  • Image for King Henry VIII of England

    King Henry VIII of England Consort in 3 parts no. 12

    Performer: David SKINNER - Speaker Performer: Alamire Performer: Quintessential Sackbutt And Cornett Ensemble

    OBSIDIAN, CD-705

  • Image for Anon

    Anon Madame d'amours a 4

    Performer: David SKINNER - Director Performer: Alamire Performer: Quintessential Sackbutt And Cornett Ensemble

    OBSIDIAN, CD705

  • Image for King Henry VIII of England

    King Henry VIII of England Taunder naken for 3 instruments [arr. of Flemish song T'Andernaken al op den Rijn]

    Performer: Andrew LAWRENCE-KING - Harp Performer: David SKINNER - Director Performer: Alamire Performer: Quintessential Sackbutt And Cornett Ensemble

    OBSIDIAN, CD-705

  • Image for Thomas Damett

    Thomas Damett Salve porta paradisi for 3 voices [Old Hall MS no.54]

    Performer: Hilliard Ensemble

    EMI, CDC-7 54111 2

  • Image for Thomas Damett

    Thomas Damett Beata Dei

    Performer: Hilliard Ensemble

    EMI, CDC-7 54111 2

  • Image for Anon

    Anon Anon - Deo gratias Anglia (The Agincourt carol) [Trinity Coll. Cambridge Ms.o.3.58]

    Performer: Christopher PAGE - Director Performer: Gothic Voices

    HYPERION, CDA-66238, 1-16

  • Image for [anonymous]

    [anonymous] French Fanfare

    Performer: Philip PICKETT - Director Performer: New London Consort

    BBC Recording

  • Image for Josquin des Prez

    Josquin des Prez Allegez moy for 6 voices

    Performer: Philip PICKETT - Director Performer: New London Consort

    BBC Recording

  • Image for William Cornysh

    William Cornysh Blow thi horne hunter S.29 for 3 voices

    Performer: Philip PICKETT - Director Performer: New London Consort

    BBC Recording

  • Image for Robert Fayrfax

    Robert Fayrfax Magnificat "Regale" [2nd tone] for 5 voices

    Conductor: Harry CHRISTOPHERS Performer: The SIXTEEN

    CORO, 16026

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