Music for Canterbury Cathedral

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ticket Information

Tickets: $40 

General seating only | Includes same-day admission to the Museum 


This program is presented in conjunction with the special exhibit 'Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral' (Feb. 25 to May 18). The exhibit features six windows that have not left the cathedral precincts since their creation in 1178-80.

Additional Images

3:00 PM
Presented By
The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Event Type
Early Music
Event Contact
John Yannis
Contact Email



Blue Heron's concert of Music for Canterbury Cathedral was

"as thrilling as any Hollywood adventure."

KC Metropolis | October 2013

The renowned professional vocal ensemble Blue Heron brings to The Cloisters music from the Peterhouse partbooks, the late-Tudor English polyphony that launched it to international attention. Acclaimed by The Boston Globe as "one of the Boston music community's indispensables" and by Alex Ross of The New Yorker for its "expressive intensity", Blue Heron will bring a thrilling program of music from the largest extant source of English pre-reformation polyphony (copied c.1540), the Peterhouse partbooks. The partbooks have been a focus of the ensemble's activities since its first concert in 1999, and it has released three CDs of works from this source to date. Many are world-premiere recordings. The first volume was praised at some length by Alex Ross in The New Yorker. (The full text is now available on his blog, here.) The fourth CD will feature all the works on the April 13 program.


In 2001, Blue Heron gave the North American premiere performance of Robert Jones's Missa Spes nostra in Boston. The performance revealed the Mass to be the mature work of a master. Full of supple melody and lustrous harmony, it still speaks to us across a divide of four and a half centuries. The work, like all the works on this program, comes from a source copied around 1540 for the new choral foundation at Canterbury Cathedral. Following Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, Canterbury was refounded, and in need of music; and so it commissioned Thomas Bull, a musician and scribe, to copy music at Magdalen College, Oxford. He did so, apparently in some haste. Four of the five partbooks he copied have survived and are known today as the Peterhouse partbooks. In the edition used by Blue Heron, the missing tenor part, and some parts of the treble line (where pages are missing) have been reconstructed by the brilliant musicologist and composer, Prof. Nick Sandon.


Jones' unforgettable Mass will be offered alongside another from the Peterhouse partbooks, Robert Hunt's Stabat Mater, a work that is quite simply unlike anything you have heard before. The performances this season are the North American premieres of these works. In October, the program was presented in Kansas City, at Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music, at Boston University and at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Audiences have loved it!


In October, Blue Heron also released the latest CD in its Peterhouse partbooks series, containing world premiere recordings of music of Ludford and John Mason. Tom Moore, in the current issue of the magazine Early Music America, calls it a "world-class" effort. Matthew Guerrieri wrote, in The Boston Globe


The performances are suffused with elegance and polish ... intense, 

expressively heightened dramas that unfold in a kind of 

purified, meditative slow motion.

Ensemble Name
Blue Heron (Scott Metcalfe, dir.)
Julia Steinbok, Sonja Tengblad, Shari Wilson, treble; Jennifer Ashe, Pamela Dellal, Martin Near, mean; Jason McStoots, Owen McIntosh, contratenor; Michael Barrett, David McFerrin, Mark Sprinkle, tenor; Cameron Beauchamp, Paul Guttry, Steven Hrycelak, bass
Robert Jones, Robert Hunt, Sarum Plainchant
SARUM PLAINCHANT Kyrie Deus creator omnium
JONES Gloria / Missa Spes nostra 
JONES Credo / Missa Spes nostra
HUNT Votive antiphon: Stabat mater
JONES Sanctus / Missa Spes nostra 
JONES Agnus dei / Missa Spes nostra
Reconstructions by Nick Sandon in Antico Edition


FuentidueƱa Chapel at The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park
New York City, NY