Thursday, 20 October 2011


This autumn's concert by Cantilena will be given on Saturday (10 December 2011) just before the third Sunday in Advent . Advent marks the period just before Christmas and is a time of preparation and anticipation.

This year we are celebrating with a feast of Spanish Polyphony of the sixteenth century. This music is truly ravishing and it is easy just to sit back and allow the delectable harmonies to wash over you! But to understand the meaning of the words is greatly to enhance your experience; and, as most of us these days are not Latin speakers, a printed version of the words is helpful.

We start the concert with a plea to God to send down his goodness on his desolate people. The text originated from the Old Testament and refers very specifically to Jerusalem and Israel generally. But we can extend that to mean his whole creation, especially in these troubled times.

And the reply comes: all we have to do is wait.

So starts the Christian journey to Christmas. Even if you are not of the Christian faith you can empathise with the longing for peace and a certain future implicit in this piece.

You can find a full translation by clicking this link:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


If you love to sing you also love to share that with others. Long standing Cantilena member Brian Marshall shares with us some of his joy in singing.

I joined Cantilena about 6 years ago, after singing with a bigger local choir. I immediately felt at home and can honestly say that Cantilena are the friendliest group with whom I have sung.
Music, and especially singing, are key (sorry!) parts of my life. I was lucky to have been brought up in a musical household where both my parents sang and played. I was with several choirs in Essex before moving to beautiful Somerset 8 years ago.
For me, singing is energising and encompassing and touches at a deep emotional level. At times, the experience of singing in a group can be quite magical and particularly bears out Aristotle’s aphorism that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I especially love singing unaccompanied pieces. This demands greater rigour and a need really to listen and blend with other parts. We are currently rehearsing some a cappella music that is glorious to sing and - we hope - listen to: gems from the late renaissance by Victoria and contemporaries.

Picking up such a score represents for me a significant historic link as we re-create the exact sounds that a composer set down in a very different world, sometimes many hundreds of years ago.
If you can, come to our next concert at St Mary’s Glastonbury on 10 December 2011  and find out if the music is as rewarding to hear as to sing.
(This is going to be such an unusual concert - you really don't want to miss it!)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


If Cantilena blogs appear at somewhat irregular intervals it's because that's the nature of the choir. Summertime is quiet while we all rest and take time out.

But we came back this autumn to a treat. Tomas Luis De Victoria died in 1611 and was just about the most famous and respected musician of his day. His religious choral works are full of that mixture of devotion and sensuality that so characterises the Spanish polyphony of the time.

His skill is also evident in the way that the melodies and lines just seem to flow effortlessly. He often uses plainchant as the basis for his works and this is especially evident in his Missa "Ave Maris Stella". This ravishing work uses the Spanish plainsong throughout, yet the whole piece exudes a richness of harmony.

We are really enjoying singing this music! Every part has beautiful lines and all parts interweave seamlessly.

We're celebrating his life on 10 December 2011 at St Mary's Church Glastonbury and we hope that as many people as possible will join us to share the joy and pleasure of Victoria's music

Listen to some Victoria - his wonderful O Quam Gloriosum!