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The Fitzhardinge Consort is back with its first performance since lock-down, and we’re making up for lost music. Due to Covid-19, we were unable to sing for you a wealth of music from Lent to Easter and Ascension to Pentecost and Trinity, so we’re bringing you a concert of all our seasonal favourites compressed into 90 minutes. Repertoire will include…

The quartet rehearsal for Allegri’s Miserere was so beautiful that one of the altos sneakily caught it on camera – thanks Tim!

Miserere Mei by Gregorio Allegri (perhaps not quite as you know it)
Dum Transisset Sabbatum by John Taverner
O Clap Your Hands by Orlando Gibbons
Litany to the Holy Spirit by Peter Hurford
Lobet den Herrn by J. S. Bach

… followed by some close-harmony classics.

Director Peter Wagstaff has written about this choice of repertoire in his latest blog post – Six months of silence

Bristol Cathedral is fully compliant with government regulations and advice.

Face-coverings must be worn throughout the performance unless personal exemptions apply.

Your contact information will be retained for 21 days after the event, for the purposes of track-and-trace.

If you have any questions about how we are keeping you safe, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Date: Thursday 8th October, 2020
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral
Tickets: £10, available from Opus13 / 0117 923 0164 /
All proceeds will go to support the work of Bristol Cathedral

Sometimes I wonder why we do this. Why sing? Why go to the effort of running or singing in a choir? Millennials like me have spent our lives being told to become lawyers or software engineers. Whoever thought that this century was doomed to some hellish Groundhog Day of software engineers suing one another may be proved right in the end, but I hope not. Because I decided to sing instead. So I return to the question, why? And then, inevitably, not just why do we sing, but why do we do music at all? In short, why art?

Art is a tricky thing. Is it representational? Is it functional? What should it look like, and what should it sound like? In the 20th and 21st centuries, this has led to some pretty challenging art which not only lacks beauty, but deliberately shirks it. This is a perilous path to tread. I have no more problem with atonal modernist music than I have with Tracey Emin’s unmade bed or Marcel Duchamp’s signed urinal. The purpose of them all, to some degree, is to show us that art does not need to ‘pander’ to beauty; that beauty and art are not the same thing. While this depends on one’s definition of art, the point is well made. The question I pose is, what does art of this kind give to humanity, besides an experiment (some may say a failed experiment)? To glibly remove beauty from art – content from form – is to rob humanity of the most precious thing it has: that transporting moment when nothing else matters but the absorption you feel in something beautiful. Be it in a piece of music, a landscape, a smiling baby, or an arresting sense of the vastness of the sea, it is what C. S. Lewis calls being ‘surprised by joy’, when nothing worldly matters – only the transcendence of that moment. We never know when it’s coming, but when it does, it changes us for ever. Why? Because, for a fleeting moment, we’ve glimpsed God. And in this moment, we become a better person. In a flash, we see the world for what it really is: not a market economy or a scientific equation, but a moment in time, possessed of infinite beauty and goodness. It is the artist’s job to capture this moment. And in a world enslaved to money, crippled by acrimony and deafened by conflict, what could be more important than this? By opening our eyes and ears to the real world around us, we open our hearts to beauty and truth, and so to a better society and a happier life.

Next time I’m asked ‘why would you be a musician?’ I’ll answer – ‘what else would I want to be?’

Peter Wagstaff, January 2020

This event was sadly cancelled due to Covid-19. We will be singing this piece again in 2021, if circumstances allow, so check our Forthcoming Events page, or sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date

a trio from last year’s performance, sung by members of Fitz before a moment’s silence held for Notre Dame Cathedral, which had burned the previous night

After the huge success of last year’s performance, The Fitzhardinge Consort returns to Bristol Cathedral for another special Holy Week performance of Dieterich Buxtehude’s stunning cantata cycle, Membra Jesu Nostri, accompanied by The Fitzhardinge Players. The highlight of 2019 for the Consort, this repeat performance promises to be something very special indeed – a moving meditation on the Body of Christ, held in the extraordinary beauty and acoustic of the Cathedral’s Eastern Lady Chapel.

Date: 7 April, 2020
Time: 5:15pm
Venue: Bristol Cathedral, Eastern Lady Chapel
Tickets: FREE entry, with a retiring collection