"Unaccompanied choral singing comes no better than this - in blend, accuracy, precision and commitment..." The Guardian.
During spring 2023 we plan to tour and record a dramatic new programme, combining three of J. S. Bach’s iconic motets with contemporary works by Sir James MacMillan. Captured live in concert at Snape Maltings, this new album will feature the world premiere recording of MacMillan’s 'I Saw Eternity', which was composed specially for Tenebrae.
We need your help to raise £20,000, which will contribute towards recording fees for our wonderful freelance artists, and practical costs such as travel and accommodation.
How Will It Work?
Throughout April and May 2023, Tenebrae will tour the programme in concert in the UK, Switzerland and Hungary – including at our Holy Week Festival at St John’s Smith Square, London. This will give us the chance to get to know the pieces inside out, developing our interpretation and forging a strong partnership with the string and keyboard players who will join us in the Bach motets.
In May 2023, we will give a very special performance in the beautiful concert hall at Snape Maltings in Suffolk, UK. Working with a team of expert sound producers from Signum Records, we will create a top-quality live-capture recording of the performance, combining Tenebrae's trademark passion and precision with the added excitement and energy that a live audience brings.
The full album will be released in autumn 2023.
The Bach Motets
J. S. Bach is celebrated as one of the greatest composers of all time, and his motets for double choir are pillars of the choral repertoire. Ever since Nigel Short founded Tenebrae in 2001 it has been his ambition to record them, and this recording will feature three of them: ‘Komm, Jesu komm’, ‘Jesu, meine Freude’, and ‘Singet dem Herrn’. While very different in character, all three are technically demanding and encompass a wide range of emotions – the ideal combination for Tenebrae.
Sir James MacMillan
Popular with choral music fans across the world, Sir James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful composers. His musical language is heavily influenced by his Scottish heritage and Catholic faith, blended with influences from Eastern Europe. We will be recording his astonishing Miserere, mei Deus, as well as his settings of the Tenebrae Responsories – composed for the late-night Holy Week service from which the choir takes its name.
A highlight of the album will be the world premiere recording of 'I Saw Eternity'. Based on a text by Henry Vaughan and designed specifically to be performed alongside the Bach motets, this new work was composed specially for Tenebrae, receiving its premiere at the London Bach Festival in 2021.
"Pieces by Sir James are always so atmospheric and rewarding to sing. He combines an instinctive skill for vocal writing with a unique musical style which gives us a glimpse into his background. We are so looking forward to working on these amazing pieces and sharing them with you soon!"- Izzy Gibber, Tenebrae Singer
Photo: Philip Gatward
Why We Need Your Help
It is a vital part of our artistic mission to create benchmark recordings, and to share these as widely as possible. However, in recent years the recording industry has changed immeasurably. Physical CDs have been largely replaced by streaming and, while this offers a fantastic opportunity to reach a wider audience, many of you will already be aware that very little of the income generated reaches the artists themselves. The amount we can expect to earn through streaming is vastly less than the fixed costs involved in rehearsing, touring and recording the programme.
We need your support to generate the initial investment required to get this project off the ground, enabling us to bring world-class recordings of choral music to our growing audiences. Every gift, no matter the size, will make a big difference to us.
Described as 'phenomenal' (The Times) and 'devastatingly beautiful' (Gramophone Magazine), award-winning choir Tenebrae is one of the world's leading vocal ensembles, renowned for its passion and precision.
Under the direction of Nigel Short, Tenebrae performs at major festivals and venues across the globe, including the BBC Proms, Wigmore Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Rheingau Music Festival and Sydney Festival. The choir has earned international acclaim for its interpretations of choral music ranging from the Renaissance through to contemporary masterpieces, and it regularly commissions new music. It has also enjoyed collaborations with some of the UK's leading orchestras, appearing alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, Aurora, the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia.
Tenebrae has won two BBC Music Magazine Awards for 'Best Choral Performance', and in 2018 its album 'Music of the Spheres' was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Please make a pledge now and help us spread the word by sharing this campaign on social media mentioning @TenebraeChoir