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Boston's Blue Heron Renaissance Choir at St. Ignatius of Antioch, NYC Oct. 18 4 PM

Location: New York, USA
Choir type: Professional Choirs
Voicing: Mixed

10th Birthday Concert
Music from the Peterhouse partbooks

Boston's renowned vocal ensemble for early music, Blue Heron, celebrates its Tenth Birthday with a concert in New York City, the first visit of the full choral ensemble to the City.  The all-professional ensemble, directed by Scott Metcalfe, will present a concert featuring glorious sacred music from the golden age of English cathedral music by Hugh Aston, Nicholas Ludford, and Robert Fayrfax, and secular songs from the Tudor court.

Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 4 pm
Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church
87th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, New York City
Partially funded by an Alfred Nash Patterson Grant awarded by Choral Arts New England.

Tickets: $50 (Section A reserved seating) and $30 (Section B

Tickets can be purchased from the Blue Heron website:  For questions, contact, or call 617-960-7956.  Special package tickets are available which include a round-trip bus ride from the Boston area to steps of St. Ignatius and a concert ticket; visit the website for details.

To sample the music of Aston as featured in a live Blue Heron performance in the acoustically marvelous setting of the Bowdoin College Chapel, visit

Blue Heron will repeat a program presented in Cambridge on October 16 as the opening concert of the Boston Early Music Festival's 20th Anniversary Concert Series.  The program will include the following: Robert Fayrfax, Lauda vivi alpha et O; Nicholas Ludford, Ave Maria ancilla trinitatis; Hugh Aston, Gaude virgo mater Christi and Ave Maria dive matris Anne; songs from the Fayrfax MS and Henry VIII’s Songbook 

The Peterhouse partbooks, copied for the new cathedral foundation of Christ Church, Canterbury c. 1540-41, are “by far the largest, best preserved and most representative collection of church music to survive from a particularly unstable and controversial period in English religious history” (in the words of Nick Sandon, the world’s leading authority on the partbooks). It is a large collection of music in five parts by the greatest composers working in England c. 1510-1540, and since the tenor book went missing years (probably centuries) ago, the 50 or so pieces that are uniquely preserved there have been inaccessible to performers until Nick Sandon began publishing his perfectly idiomatic and utterly convincing reconstructions, beginning around 1990.  For much more about the Peterhouse partbooks and Blue Heron's engagement with them, visit Also, Boston’s WGBH-FM aired a lovely piece about the Peterhouse Partbooks and Blue Heron last October, which can be accessed in podcast form here


Blue Heron is now well-established as Boston’s “finest purveyor of Renaissance polyphony” (Boston Globe).

Blue Heron has proven that they can draw crowds and instill interest in Early Music. Every concert I have attended has packed the First Congregational Church of Cambridge. Their performance standard is second-to-none. With their commitment to audience engagement, performance quality, and historical veracity that awes even the most scrupulous of experts, Blue Heron sets the standard for the presentation of Renaissance vocal music.” (Boston Music Intelligencer, March 2009) . 

Blue Heron is a professional vocal ensemble that combines a commitment to vivid live performance with the study of original source materials and historical performance practice. Blue Heron’s principal repertoire interests are fifteenth-century English and Franco-Flemish polyphony, ranging from Dunstable and Du Fay through Ockeghem to Josquin; Spanish music between about 1500 and 1575; and neglected early sixteenth-century English music, especially the rich and unexplored repertory of the Peterhouse partbooks (c. 1540). Founded in 1999, Blue Heron presents its own series of concerts in Cambridge and performs regularly at Monadnock Music in New Hampshire; it has appeared as part of the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF), travelled all over the Northeast, and sung at the Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, California. This season the ensemble will make its first appearance on the BEMF Concert Series with the same program being presented in New York on October 16; and it will perform at Williams College, Tufts University, Endicott College and Boston College.

Blue Heron’s first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in March of 2007 on the Blue Heron label, to wide critical acclaim. Recording sessions have just been completed for a second CD, featuring of music from the Peterhouse partbooks by Aston, Jones and Mason.  It is slated for release in March 2010.

Blue Heron draws from the top ranks of professional singers of early music in the Boston area. There is no fixed membership in the ensemble; rather, the voices selected are those most appropriate to the program presented. The performers in this concert are Noël Bisson, Teresa Wakim, Brenna Wells, Pamela Dellal, Martin Near, Allen Combs, Jason McStoots, Mark Sprinkle, Sumner Thompson, Cameron Beauchamp, Glenn Billingsley, and Paul Guttry.

Scott Metcalfe has been the Music Director of Blue Heron since its inception. He is a specialist in music between 1400 and 1750 whose career as a violinist and conductor has taken him all over North America and Europe. Recently he earned a master’s degree in historical performance practice from Harvard University. In January 2010 he will return to New York City to lead the Green Mountain Project in an all-star 400th anniversary performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers.

Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, Inc. is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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