Welcome to our Festival blog

We are a small congregation who organised a highly successful 'William Byrd Festival' in May 2011 to celebrate the life and work of the village's Elizabethan composer, William Byrd (c.1540 - 1623). In 2012 we played host to the world-famous choir The Cardinall's Musick under their director Andrew Carwood.

This website contains everything you need to know about William Byrd and his links with Stondon Massey. The church is open for services, of course, and on the second Sunday afternoon in the month during the summer.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Stondon Singers Concert Previewed on Phoenix FM

Michael Aves, Chairman, composer, and singer in the Stondon Singers spoke to Ed Wellman yesterday morning on Phoenix FM about the forthcoming 'William Byrd Anniversary Concert' at St Peter & St Paul Church, Stondon Massey on Tuesday 5th July. Michael has composed a piece commemorating the 400th anniversary of publication of the King James' Bible. The Concert also includes a piece by Byrd's Spanish contemporary, Victoria. Hear the interview here.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Stondon Singers: William Byrd Anniversary Concert

Something of an annual, and much anticipated, event for Stondon Massey is the concert given by the Stondon Singers in memory of William Byrd, the great early music composer who died on 4 July 1623 in the Essex village. This year it will be held on Tuesday 5 July beginning at 8.00pm.

The Singers secretary writes: “We have decided to move away from the term Memorial concert to the more 'upbeat' Anniversary concert, but the underlying principle, celebrating the music of Byrd, remains the same”.

This year the concert will feature music from Tomas Luis de Victoria, who died in Madrid in 1611. The Spanish composer has a striking similarity with Byrd in that Vittoria (as his name is sometimes spelt) wrote only church music including a complete cycle of hymns for the Roman Catholic liturgical year.

The Stondon Singers return to the lovely little church of St Peter & St Paul, Stondon Massey, following their successful performance at the William Byrd Festival, for their annual celebration of the work of William Byrd and his contemporaries, and his lasting legacy into the present day.

Featured alongside works by William Byrd himself, the highlight of this year’s concert is one of the finest masses by Byrd’s contemporary, Victoria, whose ‘Missa Vidi Speciosam’ forms the central work of the first half.

Also in the concert are madrigals from the same period and contrasting works from later centuries, including an ‘Ave Maria’ by Stravinsky, works by Gabriel Jackson and Imogen Holst, plus a new anthem written specially for the Singers by Michael Aves, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Tickets for the concert cost £12 (£10 for concessions and £5 for children aged 15 and under) and are available from James Dace & Son (Chelmsford), Blackmore Post Office or any choir member. Also on the door on the night, although advance purchase is recommended

The Programme includes:
Victoria: Missa Vidi Speciosam.
Byrd: Sing Joyfully, Ave Maria, Virga Jesse Floruit, This Sweet and Merry Month, Though Amaryllis Dance in Green.
G Jackson: O Sacrum Convivium
I Holst: The Virgin Unspotted, The Twelve Kindly Months, Gypsy Davy

Monday, 6 June 2011

'London Motet & Madrigal Club' to visit Church for Byrd Song

The London Motet and Madrigal Club will be coming to Stondon Massey Church on the morning of Saturday 2 July to sing music by William Byrd. The Club tours various places associated with early music composers in particular. The group sing for pleasure and does not give concerts. Spectators are welcome on the understanding that it is not a concert. “We might try out some Byrd motets” one of the members wrote to me. “Singers are welcome to join us”. As hosts there will be coffee on arrival followed by a short introductory talk about William Byrd and his association with Stondon Massey. Then the LMMC sing. After lunch (we have recommended the Blackmore Tea Rooms in the neighbouring village) the Club move on to Ingatestone Hall which, as Festival goers will know, has a strong connection with our great composer.