We will be able to cover the cost of the Ensemble as well as the venue
This prize draw will help fund our March 2023 concert commemorating two of the most important early English composers: Byrd and Weelkes.
by William Byrd Singers in Manchester, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
We will be able to cover the cost of the Ensemble as well as the venue
A two-night winter break* for two people in York; one of the most beautiful and musically-inspiring cities in the country.
Accommodation will be in one of a selection of four stylish and contemporary holiday apartments in York city centre.
The winner may choose from a number of possible dates in January or February 2023. Why not visit in January and book to see the wonderful baritone Roderick Williams who’s on at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on the 18th . Or maybe arrange a valentine treat for your loved one in February? These are just suggestions and the cost of entertainment is not included in the prize.
*If a winter break is difficult for you, a ONE-NIGHT break can be booked for later in the season.
Sunday lunch for two on a Heritage Railway steam train.
The winner will enjoy lunch with their companion on a steam train of their choice, (which offers this experience) to be taken after Easter 2023.
On Saturday the 18th of March 2023, the William Byrd Singers will collaborate with the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble in a celebration of the music of two of the finest early English composers: William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes, whose anniversary deaths coincide in 1623. With your help we'd love to raise £1000 to support the performance through this prize draw. However, we know that times are hard so we've set our 'all or nothing' target a little lower at £400: that's £1 for each year since these great composers walked the earth! Here's why we hope you’ll support us:
Why is this an important concert?
The choir's natural 'home' is steeped in early music, and especially in the music of William Byrd. The pairing of his music with that of contemporary Thomas Weelkes is a perfect collaboration for singer and listener alike, and it is especially rare and unusual for the choir to be accompanied by early brass instruments, which have a distinctly mellow sound. Some of the motets which the choir and ensemble will perform by Weelkes are tremendously joyful and heartfelt in equal measure, and the music by Byrd, including his verse anthems, have an intense beauty which transcends time. The highly-regarded English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble will also play instrumental pieces by these two composers which will take the listener back to an era of one of the musical high-points of Elizabethan England. Binding the whole programme together will be large sections of Byrd's enormous Great Service which is rarely heard in this choral and instrumental combination.
The William Byrd Singers
Formed in 1970, The William Byrd singers is a chamber choir comprising around 35 choristers. Although classed as amateurs, many of our members are music teachers or professional musicians in other capacities.
As you might imagine, therefore, the sound we make is exemplary and now, after over fifty years, we have established a reputation in the North West for innovative and challenging programmes performed to a high standard. Such is the reputation of the Byrds that a good number of the Singers journey from out of the region to attend weekly rehearsals.
In addition to classic works our repertoire also covers more contemporary pieces, including works by John McCabe, Alan Bullard, Elizabeth Maconchy and, naturally, Stephen Wilkinson and Keith Orrell. Recent programmes have included major works rarely, if ever, performed in the North West, including Rachmaninov’s the Liturgy of St John Crysostom, Hindemith’s Apparebit Repentina Dies, Bax’s Mater Ora Filium and Stravinsky’s Mass. In 2022, in collaboration with a number of internationally renowned soloists, the 18th Century Simphonia and the children of the Sacred Heart Junior and Infant School choir we performed JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion to great acclaim at the Stoller Hall, Manchester.
Keith Orrell, our Musical Director since 2009, is an established and highly experienced choral conductor. As well as leading the William Byrd Singers, he also conducts Liverpool Welsh Choral and was formerly chorus master of the Hallé Choir.
It is essential that our performance of Byrd’s and Weelkes’ early music is credible and authentic. For this reason we are delighted to be working on with The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble.
The ECSE is a virtuoso period instrument group with a host of distinguished recordings to its name. In addition to regular recital work, the ensemble collaborates with leading vocal ensembles such as I Fagiolini, The Tallis Scholars, Alamire, Resurgam, The Marian Consort, Westminster Cathedral Choir, and of course, the William Byrd Singers. The ECSE is also Ensemble in Residence at Holy Sepulchre, London, the National Musician's Church.
ECSE is in demand as a recording ensemble, contributing to Gramophone Award-winning discs such as The Spy's Choirbook (Obsidian) in 2015, and the monumental Striggio mass in 40 parts Missa ecco si beato giorno with I Fagiolini (which scooped the Gramophone Award for Early Music 2011 and also the Diapason d'Or). ECSE celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018 with a solo CD on the Resonus label entitled Music for Windy Instruments: sounds from the Court of James
We aim to return for the second year to perform our homage to Byrd and Weelkes at the Stoller Hall, Manchester. Built in 2017, the Hall has been specially engineered to provide a totally immersive experience. Designed as a box within a box, the performance space has very low noise levels and a variable acoustic system, which provides the audience with an immersive listening experience.
Although hiring the Stoller Hall is a financially ambitious undertaking, the immense success of our St Matthew Passion last year at this great concert venue means we are hungry once again to reach out for the best.
Priced at only £17.50, our ticket sales for the concert, even with a capacity audience, will not cover our costs. Yet this is a typical ticket price for a classical concert, even for performers of our high calibre. Fundraising is therefore essential for the event to go ahead. Your donation will help to fund fees for our conductor, the ensemble, and the hall. The members of the William Byrd Singers are unpaid and indeed each member pays all their own costs for rehearsals and performances.
As a charity, the Byrds can supplement many donations through the Gift Aid scheme.
Last year's concert was possible only because of the generosity of the wonderful supporters who engaged fully with our crowdfunding venture and we are hoping we can count on your support again this year. However, we are also mindful that this year's appeal is set against a very different economic climate. That's why this year, instead of crowdfunding, we are offering a prize draw with the opportunity to win a fantastic prize for as little as £5 per ticket - or buy 5 tickets for £20 (a bargain) or 8 for £30 (even better still!).
The winner will be drawn shortly after Christmas so why not buy a handful of tickets for presents? Tick off your present list whilst at the same time supporting this fantastic cause. If you're buying tickets as presents for other people just drop us an email with the name of those you'd like to be included in the draw.
With your help we can ensure the legacy of early music is not forgotten but is shared in a glorious venue for the enjoyment of today’s music lovers and performers.