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Divers Voyces in concert called 'A Garden of Delights' at Crowland Abbey




The perfect response to some of the unrest and criminal activity in Crowland over recent months came from Cambridgeshire choral group Divers Voyces on Saturday night.

Crowland Abbey was the state for a night of music from the 15th and 16th centuries, but rarely heard and little known today.

The acoustics of the grade I-listed church, exploited to their maximum by the brilliant Britten Sinfonia last November, came into their own again as the 11-strong choir performed works by French/Belgian composers Pierre de la Rue and Nicolas Gombert, Spaniards Francisco Guerrero and Rodrigo de Ceballos, Dutchman Jacobus Clemens non Papa and "pure" Belgians, Orlando Lassus and Cipriano de Rore.

Divers Voyces gave their 'A Garden of Delights' concert at Crowland Abbey on Saturday, July 7.Photo supplied.
Divers Voyces gave their 'A Garden of Delights' concert at Crowland Abbey on Saturday, July 7.Photo supplied.

None of the composer mentioned are household names on a level with Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn or Handel.

But under the musical directorship of Joe Bolger, Divers Voyces breathed life, colour and texture into musical works whose titles would test even the most diligent Latin A-Level students in Spalding.

Doleo super te (I grieve for you), by de la Rue, Un dubbio verno (Your fame is a doubtful spring), by Lassus, Hortus conclusus (An enclosed garden) by de Ceballos, and Descendi in hortum meum (I went down into my garden), by de Rore.

Divers Voyces based their concert, A Garden of Delights, at Crowland Abbey on the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.
Divers Voyces based their concert, A Garden of Delights, at Crowland Abbey on the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Thankfully, the concert programme gave the Crowland Abbey audience all the answers they needed about the inspiration for these works of musical art.

For example, Absalon fifi mi and Doleo super te were de la Rue's interpretations of laments by King David, firstly for his son Absalom and then Jonathan - son of David's predecessor as Israelite king, Saul, and who the Bible described as someone David loved "as his own soul".

Divers Voyces gave their 'A Garden of Delights' concert at Crowland Abbey on Saturday, July 7.Photo supplied.
Divers Voyces gave their 'A Garden of Delights' concert at Crowland Abbey on Saturday, July 7.Photo supplied.

Gombert's works of Diversi diversa orant and Magnificat in tertii et octavi toni are based on Mary, mother of Jesus, with the Magnificat expressing her reaction to being that she would give birth as a virgin to the "Christ child".

One word best sums up Divers Voyces' concert at Crowland Abbey on Saturday night - tranquil.

Review by Winston Brown


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