Project Description


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About this release

Peter Philips (1560/1 – 1628) has long existed on the margins of English music.  Resident in England until 1582, Philips spent the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands.  It is presumed that Philips’s Catholicism was the motivation behind this move, as Catholics were not permitted to openly practice their faith in England at the time.  As many scholars have observed, the long-term neglect of Philips’s music has been partly due to his separation from England and its choral tradition. In recent years, Philips has begun to enjoy the acclaim he deserves as choirs rediscover his glorious motets.  The present disc is part of this rediscovery, and marks the 450th anniversary of Philips’s birth.

Commissioned Programme Note

Peter Philips (1560/1–1628) has long existed on the margins of English music. Resident in England until 1582, Philips spent the rest of his life in exile in the Netherlands. It is presumed that Philips’s Catholicism motivated this move, as Catholics were not permitted to openly practice their faith in England at the time. As many scholars have observed, the long-term neglect of Philips’s music has been partly due to his separation from England’s choral tradition. Byrd, also a Catholic, did not suffer the same fate: unlike Philips, Byrd also composed English- language madrigals and Anglican church music in addition to his many Latin motets. Byrd remained linked to the English musical establishment, despite his faith. Besides keyboard music, Philips remained little-known in England. In recent years, he has begun to enjoy the acclaim he deserves as choirs rediscover his glorious motets. The present disc is part of this rediscovery.

After leaving England Philips secured the position of organist at the English College in Rome, and whilst in the city, it is likely that he would have had some contact with composers such as Palestrina, Marenzio, Anerio and Victoria. Philips’s vocal music is indebted to this ‘Italian’ style of composition, and has little in common with his English contemporaries – a further reason for its neglect. Philips resided in Rome from 1582 until 1585, when he left in the retinue of Thomas Lord Paget (another exiled English Catholic). He settled in Antwerp in 1590, teaching the keyboard and composing instrumental music. In 1597, Philips moved to Brussels to take up the position of organist at the Archducal Court of Albert and Isabella, where he remained until his death. All of his sacred vocal music was published during this period: indeed the scholar David Smith has noted that Philips’s compositional career was carefully tailored to suit his patron’s needs.Read more

About the artists

Alexander Norman

Alexander Norman is Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Coventry.  He holds a Master of Music degree from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studied Choral Conducting with Paul Spicer.  Prior to this, Alex was an undergraduate student and organ scholar at Royal Holloway College, University of London where he accompanied the Chapel Choir for weekly services, broadcasts on BBC Radio 2 and 3 (Choral Evensong), and a recording of music by Rihards Dubra on the Hyperion label. 

Alex played the organ for the choir in many prestigious cathedrals and churches, including Evensongs at St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), St. George’s Chapel (Windsor), Washington National Cathedral and St. John the Divine Cathedral (New York).  Alex has given organ recitals at Birmingham and Coventry Cathedrals as well as local churches.  He studied the organ with Rupert Gough and Alistair Reid.  As Artistic Director of Convivium Singers, Alex was producer on a number of recordings for Convivium Records, including CDs of choral music by Malcolm Archer and Margaret Rizza.  He directed the ensemble at the Tolosa International Choral Contest and at festivals in Italy, Sardinia and the Czech Republic.  Alex returns to Tolosa in October 2018 to conduct Convivium Singers at the 50th Anniversary of the Choral Contest.  In 2015, Alex founded the Charpentier Ensemble to explore vocal music of the Baroque Era, involving some of the rising stars of the early music scene.  He teaches the piano at Blue Coat C of E School, Coventry and is Musical Director of Wythall Commmunity Choir.   

Convivium Singers

Convivium Singers is an award-winning, critically acclaimed choral ensemble, providing opportunities for young singers at the early stages of performing careers, as well as for talented musicians who have chosen not to pursue careers in music. The ensemble specialises in performing and recording sacred and secular music by living European and American composers. It was recently described as ‘an extraordinarily good choir to listen to’ by BBC Radio 3’s ‘CD Review.’

Convivium Singers have released a number of recordings in recent years, collaborating with companies, including the Baltic Exchange, London, and publishers, notably the Royal School of Church Music. Composer discs include works by Jonathan Dove, Margaret Rizza, Malcolm Archer, Carson Cooman, Hugh Benham and Michael Higgins. They have also delved into early music, and their CD of motets by Peter Philips (Convivium Records) received a Choir & Organ five-star review. The choir was filmed at Portsmouth Cathedral in 2014 for a special Songs of Praise programme on BBC1, as part of the DDay70 commemorations.

The Singers often work with established conductors and composers to introduce contemporary music to wider audiences. They were prize-winners at the Tolosa International Choral Contest (2011, Spain). The ensemble has also performed at Milan’s La Fabbrica del Canto festival and in Hradec Králové at the Czech choral festival Sborové slavnosti.

Convivium Singers have a diverse repertoire from traditional choral music to folk-songs, partsongs and popular arrangements.

  • Veni, sponsa Christi - Peter Philips
  • Cum jucunditate - Peter Philips
  • O Maria domina nostra - Peter Philips
  • Viae Sion lugent - Peter Philips
  • Ave verum corpus - Peter Philips
  • Mulieres sedentes - Peter Philips
  • Quae est ista quae ascendit - Peter Philips
  • Ecce tu pulchra es - Peter Philips
  • Corona aurea - Peter Philips
  • Paratum cor meum - Peter Philips
  • Confitebor, tibi domine - Peter Philips
  • Domine probasti me - Peter Philips
  • Beatus vir, qui inventus est - Peter Philips
  • Pater noster - Peter Philips
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Catalogue Number: CR007

Choir Convivium Singers
Organist Dr. David Price, Alexander Norman
Conductor Alexander Norman

Photography Tom Kuglin
Engineering Adaq Khan, Adrian Green
Mastering Adaq Khan
Producer Andrew King, David Millinger
Creative Director John Bevan
Executive Producer Adrian Green

Recorded 19, 20, 21 February, 11, 12, 13, 14 July 2011
Venue St Alban the Martyr, Highgate, Birmingham
Total Duration 64 mins

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