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May 14, 2010


ang almond

'Spem in Alium' is Latin for 'Spam In Garlic' and was Henry VIIIs favourite meal.

Joking aside, it is a GREAT piece of music.

Have you discovered Vaughan williams "variations on a theme of Thomas Tallis" yet?


Have you come across Hildegard von Bingen's stuff? It's like Gregorian chant but with more variety.


If it had not been for my being involved in singing music such as Byrd's Ave Verum I might have been a heathen yet! A lifelong ambition to be part of a performance of Spem in Alium has remained just that as I sing in groups of 8 or 4 - not the 40 required for the Tallis! Dame Hildegard is wonderful when on retreat (earphones!) Do you know Tallis' Lamentations of Jeremiah?
And for sheer joy, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woh1d7QxIKA

Geoff Colmer

HI Jim! Glad that you've discovered Spem in Alium. Wonderful music! I heard this performed in Oxford at the Sheldonian with The Sixteen - Wow!

Just before Christmas I was speaking at a gathering of Regional Ministers and BUGB staff, and was given 1 Cor. 14 and the title 'Serving together in diversity'. I began by playing the final fugue from Britten's 'Young Person's Guide'. Actually, you don't have to say much after that! At the end I used 'Spem in Alium' describing it as a sort of 'written singing in tongues'! What I find so amazing is that in the profusion of sound, nothing sounds jammed or crowded, which was a further reflection on the subject. Gabriel Jackson, a contemporary composer, has written a forty part choral work which is worth checking out. And from a similar era to Tallis is Brummel, Earthquake Mass, which uses much smaller resources but gets a remarkably similar effect.

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