Written by: Colin Anderson
Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen, talks about Ikon, the group’s latest CD, and about Tomás Luis de Victoria, the Renaissance Spanish composer who features on The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage…
Following their BRIT-award success with Music for Inner Peace, Harry Christophers and The Sixteen now issue Ikon (Universal Classics 476 3161). 29 voices! Harry wants the choir, formed in 1977 (“16 singers for 16th-century music”), heard “in a different light and taking us many centuries on. I didn’t want to do just Tavener and Pärt. So we have Rachmaninov and MacMillan, and Holst and Stravinsky, as well. It really works. It’s the way these composers use the words, whether Latin, Russian or English; let the language create the music – that’s Arvo Pärt’s view.”
Ikon contains “wonderful music for people who enjoy the spiritual experience of being taken to another world. We don’t want it used as background; this is music that tests people’s emotions – music that enters the heart.” So too that of Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611), the featured composer on The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage, which arrives at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 28 March. “Victoria’s music has an amazing effect. He was a scholar, priest, singer and organist, a figure of international stature who devoted himself to writing music for the church. His phenomenal Requiem is a masterpiece of the Renaissance and we’ll contrast that with Marian Motets that are incredibly sensual and tender. There’s a real Iberian feel to his music. He was born in Spain and came back there but his formative years were spent in Rome; it’s the emotional expression in his music that makes it so special.” It’s recorded on The Sixteen’s label, Coro.