This Sunday at the 10:30 am service, the LCH choir will be singing two works by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): “Blessed be the undefiled” and “If ye love me.” You can hear this last anthem as sung by the Cambridge Singers in the video embedded below.
As the choir was rehearsing “If ye love me,” Miguel Felipe asked the choir to spread out to the four corners of the church. As you can see by the photo above, the sopranos are at the Ewa end of the altar platform, the altos are by the front door, the tenors are on the Mauka (mountain) side of the organ and the basses are in the choir stalls. The sound was glorious, not only because of the purity of the choral tone but also because of our church’s reverberant acoustics. It was a little like being in the middle of an giant organ, and being surrounded with pipes all over (but in this case, human windpipes). Believe me, you don’t know how lucky we are to have the acoustical environment we have — and that we don’t have “to work in a pillow factory,” as Carl Crosier would say.
It reminded me of another time that the acoustics and the music of Thomas Tallis made such an impression on me — it was the choir’s performance of “Hear the voice and prayer” that was sung at the deathbed of Walter Williams, a former LCH chorister who died of AIDS. As we began to sing, we revelled at the glorious ambiance of the acoustics of his hospital room. Our music, though, was punctuated by the sounds of the ventilator and beeps of the medical monitoring devices, and my thought at the time was, “My God, we’re going to kill him with Tallis!” Carl said something like, “Walter, I really like the acoustics of your room!” It was definitely a performance I’ll never forget.
If you come to this Sunday’s 10:30 service, you’ll hear Tallis in surround sound!