Miserere: Meditations on Mercy

St Martin in the Fields, London
9:30 pm, Friday, 24 March, 2017


Pegasus returns to the Brandenburg Choral Festival with a programme built around the theme of mercy. We open with two settings by the great sixteenth-century English contemporaries and collaborators Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. The motets Miserere nostri, Domine and Miserere mihi, Domine expand fragments of plainchant into canons – in Tallis’s case extraordinarily ingeniously, with multiple overlapping canons across seven choral parts. Jean Mouton’s Nesciens Mater is also a tour-de-force of canon writing, with four canons sung simultaneously across eight parts. The contrasting emotions of Sheppard’s serene Libera nos, salva nos and Tomkins’s heartrending When David heard are set against two large-scale works: Byrd’s intense eight-part motet Quomodo cantabimus and Victoria’s Vadam et circuibo, a passionate setting of the Song of Songs by the most celebrated composer of the Spanish Renaissance.

Our programme culminates in the famous Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri. Composed for the exclusive use of the Sistine Chapel, its combination of solo cantor and antiphonal choirs, one singing a simple harmonisation of the chant and the other responding with a beautifully ornamented version, makes a powerful and moving end to this concert.


Thomas Tallis – Miserere nostri, Domine

William Byrd – Miserere mihi, Domine

John Sheppard – Libera nos, salva nos

William Byrd – Quomodo cantabimus

Thomas Tomkins – When David heard

Tomás Luis de Victoria – Vadam et circuibo

Jean Mouton – Nesciens Mater

Gregoria Allegri – Miserere mei, Deus

Matthew Altham, director



£14 (£12.60 students/under-16s/over-60s) available from St Martin in the Fields

Venue details

St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ
Nearest tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square