Winter Music

Each year the first week in November marks a change in our house. The arrival of shorter, darker days is our cue to start playing our favourite 16th century choral music which seems to suit this time of year so well.

We start with the three T's: Thomas Tallis, John Taverner and Christopher Tye. These composers all lived through a unique time as Henry VIII transformed England from Catholic to Church of England. The polyphonic music they created has been sung for over 400 years and is as exciting today as it was when it was first performed.

Voices of choirs soar as they sing motets and settings of the mass in the fantastic acoustics of a great cathedral - Lincoln, perhaps, or York Minster. The music starts with a single note and slowly grows into fat chords as other voices join. This is heard nowhere better than Tallis's 40-part motet Spem in Alium which slowly builds to a crescendo with the 40 voices harmonising perfectly.

Alongside the three T's we also play music by other composers of that era including William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Palestrina and Monteverdi. And thanks to our new music system, we enjoy the music throughout the house. 

There's always a place for the traditional Christmas carols but for me this is real winter music and it never fails to send a shiver down my spine.