Veni, Sponsa Mea - Convent Composers and The Song of Songs

Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 8pm - Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

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Throughout history, the Song of Songs has been a divisive text in liturgical contexts. With its passionate, often erotic symbolism, it has been construed as a metaphor for earthly love, for the love of Christ for the world, for the relationship of the church to God, and so on.

One of its most prominent images is that of the bride being led into a loving paradise. For nuns, whose veiling ceremonies were intimately connecte with the ideas of a "spiritual marriage" to both the church and Christ, this book and its related paraphrases were a wellspring of inspiration to those composers who lived and worked in convents.

In Christ Church Cathedral, originally founded by St Frideswide as a convent, we'll present music by composers including Aleotti, Cozzolani, and Leonarda that explores themes of love, marriage, and devotion.

Anguish of Hell and Peace of Soul - Music of Reassurance

Sunday 29th July 2018, 6pm - St Laurence's Church, East Harptree

Untune the Sky returns to the beautiful Somerset countryside for a concert exploring sacred composers' reassurance of salvation.

In 1616 a court official in Thurungia narrowly escaped death, and as a form of thanksgiving, commisioned 16 of Germany's leading composers to write settings of Psalm 116 ("Dilexi, quoniam"). Publishing them as an anthology in 1623, he named the collection Angst der Hellen und Friede der Seelen.

We'll be pairing some of these works with other pieces with similar themes, including Bach's Jesu, Meine Freude, which we performed in our very first concert.

anguish of hell;peace of soul

Lamento della Ninfa

Thursday 5th July 2018, 8pm, Somerville College Chapel

Take me to the river

Sí tra sdegnosi pianti
spargea le voci al ciel;
cosí ne' cori amanti
mesce amor fiamma, e gel.

So amidst disdainful tears,
She spread her crying to the sky;
Thus, in lovers' hearts
Love mixes fire and ice.

Pleasure and pain are present in equal parts in the love of the Italian madrigalists. Exquisite heartbreak and delicious torment, abandonment, sensuality, infidelity, joy and passion are squeezed into each lingering chord and each fleeting breath. Delight and wallow in an evening of songs and madrigals by Monteverdi, Casulana, Caccini and Marenzio.

Salon! Music of the Belle Epoque

Tuesday 5th June 2018 - The Deanery, Christ Church, Oxford

In the intimate surroundings of the Drawing Room of the Deanery at Christ Church, Oxford, Untune the Sky presents music, poetry, and wine from an imagined evening at the home of Lili and Nadia Boulanger in 1911.

As two of the most influential composers of the twentieth century, their regular salons played host to some of the leading figures from the Belle Epoque to enjoy each other's musical company and present some of their newest compositions years before they were ever published (if at all).

Untune the Sky perform ensemble pieces and solo songs by the Boulanger sisters, Cecile Chaminade, Jane Vieu, Gabriel Faure, Camille Saint-Saens, and more.


the little match girl passion / stabat mater

Saturday 24th March 2018 - Queen's College Chapel

untune the sky.

David Lang's little match girl passion, inspired by the eponymous Hans Christian Andersen tale, re-contextualises the story as a passion narrative, drawing a religious and moral equivalency between the suffering of the poor girl and Christ on the cross. Just as traditional musical settings of the passion can include texts other than the story itself, so too does Lang's work - incorporating the responses of the crowd and other characters, with additional text from Bach's librettist and the Gospel of St Matthew.

Agostino Steffani's 1728 setting of the Stabat Mater text takes up the narrative where the little match girl ends, portraying Mary's suffering during the passion, at the foot of the cross. Richly scored for 6 voices and orchestra, it captures the inherent drama of the text with a poignancy that makes it at least the equal of the better-known setting by Pergolesi.

Cari Musici - Songs of the Early Baroque

Tuesday 27th February 2018, 8pm - The Deanery, Christ Church, Oxford

In the early 17th Century, the solo song began to overtake choral polyphony as the dominant genre of artistic expression in music.

As publishing became cheaper and more accessible, those previously excluded from the high circles of the musical literati were able to make their voices heard, and their names known. With hundreds of works attributed to them, the output of these 17th Century composers is hugely diverse, consisting of thousands of sacred and secular songs - of which only a handful are still frequently performed today.

In the unique surroundings of the Royal Residence at Christ Church, Oxford, Untune the Sky scratches the surface of this brilliant musical world, presenting songs  on the timeless themes of love, loss, and  passion by Strozzi, Bembo, Caccini, and others.

Ecole De ballet

Brother Son, Sister Moon: Music for St Francis of Assisi

Friday 2nd February 2018, 8:30pm - Exeter College Chapel

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The deeply devotional writings of St Francis of Assisi have long been a wellspring of inspiration for composers, many of whom have been particularly drawn to his belief that nature itself was the mirror of God. We present here a collection of mostly 20th-/21st-Century works that explore the divine in nature, and the natural in the divine, including works by Lili Boulanger, Sally Beamish, Judith Weir, and Solfa Carlile.

All proceeds from this concert were donated to Crisis Skylight Oxford.

Schütz - Musikalische Exequien

Magdalen College, Oxford - November 18th, 2017 - 8pm

A juxtaposition the hopeful, assured messages of the texts of Heinrich Schütz's Musikalisches Exequien with two other roughly contemporary funeral settings from France and England: Charpentier's Messe des Morts,  and Henry Purcell's Sentences for the Funeral of Queen Mary, which echo and comment on the themes explored in Schütz's masterpiece.

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A Hymn to St Cecilia

Clifton Cathedral, 2nd August 2017

St Stephen's House, Oxford, 14th September 2017

Clifton Cathedral August-002

Britten's Hymn to St Cecilia forms the centrepiece of a programme of psalms, songs and anthems, also featuring music by La Jeune, Purcell, Dowland, and Tomkins.

Tunes from Archbishop Parker's Psalter

Bristol Cathedral, 1st August 2017

A programme of repertoire exploring themes expressed in Tallis's settings of tunes for Archbishop Parker's psalter, with music by Byrd, Ramsey, Wilbye, and Morley.

Untune the Sky Consort Bristol Cathedral

Music for a Summer's Evening

St Laurence's Church, East Harptree, 31st July 2017

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A performance in the heart of the beautiful Chew Valley to perform a seasonal programme of songs, psalms and madrigals, including music by Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Tallis, Warlock and Ravel.

Salve Regina: Music from the Eton Choirbook

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, 7th May 2017

A performance of four settings of the Salve Regina text from the 15th Century Eton Choirbook

Sutton Salve Regina a 7
Cornysh Salve Regina a 5
Browne Salve Regina a 5
Wylkynson Salve Regina a 9

Salve 1-001

Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri

University College Chapel, Oxford, 2nd March 2017

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Untune the Sky's debut performance, featuring Dietrich Buxtehude's 1680 cantata cycle, Membra Jesu Nostri. said to be "the first Lutheran Oratorio", alongside Kuhnau Tristis Est Anima Mea and Bach'sJesu, Meine Freude


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