Lambert de Sayve workshop with Philip Thorby

SWEMF Workshop
30 September 2023 – Thorverton Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury

On the 30th September 2023, around 46 instrumentalists and singers met to learn the Missa Dominus Regnavit a 16 by the Flemish composer Lambert de Sayve (1548-1614). Philip Thorby led this oneday workshop at Thorverton Church, a most appropriate venue for the occasion which was very well arranged by Marilyn Pocock. 

The mass is for 16 parts, comprising 4 choirs, each of instrumentalists and singers. It demands sustained focus from the musicians who came from all round the South West UK for this memorable and moving experience. 

As the daylight gently descended the notes fell and soared within the Beer stone vaulted church. The organ kindly signposted chords. The exquisite purple and green stained glass east window glinted over us all. Philip Thorby energised us with his encouragement, amusing apt metaphors and informed us about the wider sound world of the mass, with all its gelling glory, humility and spirituality. There was the mystery and awe amidst the not bad and not good’ leading to the very beautiful indeed. Parts varied in levels of muscularity, darkness, captivity, slipperiness and calmness. Such were the descriptions of our leader which really deepened our engagement over the day.

Lunch was taken at nearby pubs or in the churchyard ensconced in yew and surrounding Medieval cob and thatch. How thankful we are to have gained a day of such deep polyphony and rich cadences. A top-class empathic teacher in Philip Thorby is a treasure. After our final complete rendition, we walked out into the unmistakable harvest festive air. The whole effect felt timeless, joyful and creatively very satisfying. It was certainly, in Thorby’s own words of the day, ‘worth coming all this way for’.

Jo Bowen