Inspired by the Sistine Chapel under the direction of founder Peter Philips at St. John the Evangelist Church, this evening's performance explored some of the Vatican's musical treasures which are remarkable in their beauty and form. Widely considered one of the leading Early Music exponents, tonight's full church acknowledged the Tallis Scholars expertise, echoing their hearty praise at the end of each of the eleven pieces, followed by an encore performance of a Lotti's Crucifixus.
Like a cue from above, sunlight suddenly streamed through the windows illuminating the singers during 'Morales Regina Caeli'. Following each piece, conductor/ director Peter Philips beamed and stepped aside acknowledging how proud he was of the singers. With such remarkable talent and precision, the acoustics of the church made the most of their delivery. Progressively throughout the concert, the audience got more engrossed in the virtuosic voices which reached an apex with an extraordinary delivery of Allegri's 'Miserere' performed just after the interval.
'Miserere' commenced with a solo sung by a tenor in the pulpit. It also featured a small group to one side which included a soprano voice reaching a top C amidst the harmony of the other choir members centre stage. It was like one of those moments when someone brushes a finger around the lip of a crystal glass and the sound rings forth, drowning out all other noises.
A choral experience of this calibre comes along once in a lifetime for many audience members. Just as the Sistine Chapel is the jewel of the Vatican City Rome, the Tallis Scholars must surely be one of the UK's musical national treasures. If the audience's reaction was anything to go by it is hoped that the Tallis Scholars will be invited back next festival.