The nine-man a cappella vocal ensemble Clerestory will begin its eleventh season next month. The title of the opening concert will be Ye Sacred Muses: Choral Music from the Chapel Royal. The Chapel Royal was not a building but rather an ecclesiastical organization of clergy, singers, and vestry officers in the service of the reigning sovereign. Both Scotland and England had distinct Chapels Royal, both of which date back to the eleventh century, although the earliest records in England were documented in 1312. Composers who served the English Chapel Royal included Henry Purcell, William Byrd, and Thomas Tallis; and the program will include lesser-known a cappella works by these three composers as well as others. The program will also include selections from The Triumphs of Oriana, a collection of 25 madrigals compiled by Thomas Morley and published in 1601, said to be a tribute to Queen Elizabeth I, supposedly the “Oriana” of the title. (This attribution has now come into question.) Every madrigal in the collection concludes with the same couplet:
Thus sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana:
long live fair Oriana
The program will also include excerpts from A Garland for the Queen, a similar compilation prepared for Queen Elizabeth II with contributions by composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gerald Finzi, and Michael Tippett.
The San Francisco performance of this program will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, September 10. The venue will be Grace Cathedral, located at 1100 California Street at the top of Nob Hill. General admission will be $25 with a $15 rate for students. Tickets may be purchased online in advance through an Eventbrite event page. This page also allows for donated contributions in addition to ticket acquisition.