The year is 1611. William Byrd rehearses a makeshift choir in his patron’s house in Ingatestone, Essex. In a series of 6 short monologues, Byrd reflects on his life, his music, his marriage and his religion. He ponders on the difficulty of writing Catholic music in extreme Protestant times. He muses on his relationship with the Queen. He relives the terror of persecution and of the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. He thinks also about great contemporary figures and writers, above all the dramatist whose work intrigues him, Shakespeare. We watch Byrd struggling to understand the mystery that is his music and what lies at its heart.
2023 is the 400th anniversary of the death of the English composer William Byrd (1540/3-1623). Many choirs will perform concerts in which Byrd’s music features prominently in the repertoire. Master Byrd differs from ‘greatest hits’ compilations in being a dramatic presentation that helps an audience to understand his life and the conditions of composition of his music. Rather than being a static ‘and now we’d like to sing for you’ playlist, Master Byrd develops a narrative by which the music is motivated and from which it emerges. And you don’t miss out on the greatest hits!
Tickets will be available in the spring.