SWEMF Workshop with Tim Bayley
23rd March 2024 – Harwood Hall, Christchurch, Cheltenham.

An array of sackbuts, curtals, recorders, cornettos and shawms met (handily near Cheltenham train station) to play polychoral music under Tim Bayley’s direction.

Tim introduced the day by reading a contemporary description of a rededication in 1607 of a chapel in Hamburg to St Gertrud. The ‘non-Popish’ mass started at 6.30 am; in addition to sermon, readings and prayers, there were chants, organ preludes, chorales sung by the congregation interspersed with five polychoral pieces with singers and musicians. It must have been a huge, impressive, event – especially as several platforms had to be erected around the church for musicians.

We played two of those polychoral pieces: Alleluia Cantate Domino in 12 parts/3 choirs by Handl (Jacobus Gallus) and Herr Gott Dich Loben Wir in 16 parts/4 choirs by Hieronymus Praetorius (a local Hamburg composer and organist), the latter being an extended work in three sections.

Tim tested us with another 16 part piece by Hieronymus Praetorius Exultate Justi in Domino – together with a comparison 16 parter using the same text by Hans Hassler – both with rhythmic interest. We also played other large scale pieces from the same era by Handl and Massaimo.

It was another splendid Tim Bayley loud wind day. Simon Pickard had found the perfect venue and Tim introduced us to this new (to me) South German repertoire. Though not perfect, the blended sounds of our instruments and the interplay between the choirs was a delight – though of course only our esteemed MD (and possibly St Gertrud) got the full benefit.

Heather Jenne