Oregon ArtsWatch on The Tudor Choir

The Tudor Choir
The Tudor Choir

Photo by Jesson Mata

“The Tudor Choir re-opened for business this month. On hiatus since 2015, the ensemble presented one concert in their hometown of Seattle and two more in the Portland Metro area, at St. Mary’s Cathedral and in Hillsboro’s St. Matthew’s Church. The latter is a wonderfully accessible venue with a reverberant acoustic, challenging but with potential for this concert’s Tudor period music in which melismatic lines and reiterated melodies are woven through cleanly defined harmonies – when the choir and director find a way to bring this to the fore. …

[The premiere of Nico] Muhly’s Small Raine showed depth and gravitas, with shimmering added-note harmonies taking different paths of composition than anything else on the program. And yet, the piece was based on the same ancient secular tune, “Western Wind,” used in the Taverner Mass. …

Director Fullington wisely placed Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, by Seattle composer Jeff Junkinsmith (b. 1956), at the end of the first half of Tudor works. The choir commissioned this piece in 2001 and it is difficult to imagine it being performed better. It awakened the senses by flirting with bi-tonality, tertiary harmonies and lush texture. These excellent musicians dissected the dissonances as if wielding precision German steel. …

Hillsboro, Oregon’s fifth largest city, has great audience potential. … Cappella Romana deserves kudos for facilitating this event. There is cultural building to be done, surely, but more groups should be encouraged to come to Hillsboro rather than the opposite. … Just keep fine groups like the Tudor Choir coming. Do not miss them when they take the stage near you. The makings for an outstanding choral experience are there. It’s good to have them back.”

Bruce Browne, Oregon ArtsWatch