Google, the world’s most powerful search engine, gets things wrong on occasions. If you search for John Taverner, you are bound to find John Tavener among the search results as well. Is the different spelling just a typo? In fact, Taverner and Tavener were two different people. Two important English composers, both of whom made their mark on the musical culture of their time. TAVE(R)NERinPRIMETIME looks for similarities and differences in the music of the two composers, one in the Renaissance and one in the late 20th century.
The career of John Taverner (c. 1490-1545) mainly played out in Lincolnshire, where he was born, and in Oxford. He worked as a singing master at Cardinal College in Oxford, founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey. Later he took a similar position at St Botolph’s Church in Boston, Lincolnshire. He died in the town in 1545. Taverner lived in turbulent times for religion. King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, which led to the founding of the Church of England. The majority of Taverner’s surviving works date from the period 1520-1530, shortly before that rupture. The pieces by Taverner that we know today are masses, votive antiphons and Magnificats. His music is
characterised by endless, beautiful melodies woven into a rich counterpoint.
John Tavener (1944-2013) was one of the most fascinating English composers of the 20th century. Independently of the European avant-garde,
he developed his own musical vocabulary based on a spiritual journey. That journey took him to Western Christianity, the Russian and Greek
Orthodox Churches and other religions. He integrated the texts of poets and philosophers he admired into his compositions. He claimed that much of his music arose spontaneously, as if inspired by an intangible power. All his compositions – whether intimate chamber music, works for choir or instrumental pieces for ensembles – are infused with mysticism. He viewed many of his compositions as a musical expression of the ‘eternal feminine’ or pieces that spoke of mortality, suffering, redemption and transcendence. He perceived the will in all religions to reunite the human soul with its spiritual quest. His music is the ideal companion on that quest.
TAVE(R)NERinPRIMETIME brings together the best work of the two English composers. Expect concerts that take the form of spiritual experiences.
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