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From The Times - Hilary Finch

QUITE a happening on Saturday night in the hallowed sanctum of the Inner Temple in London. A deep silence in the medieval round church which serves as both baptistry and funerary for the Temple Church. And then, as Tallis’s great 40-part motet, Spem in alium, began its multiphonic journey up into the vaulting, so the audience began to move about the church from east to west, savouring the shifting kaleidoscope of voices as they radiated through the building. And then it happened all over again.
Billed simply as an evening of sacred music by Thomas Tallis and Arvo Pärt, this was interactive concert-going at its most revelatory. Stephen Layton, director of the excellent and entirely amateur Holst Singers, had devised a programme which would use every nook and cranny of the Temple Church to the full. And so sensitive was his 'choreography' and his musical pacing that, far from reeking of gimmickry, it all seemed as though it could not have happened in any other way.
Tallis and Pärt are natural soulmates: the Elizabethan with his light-filled polyphony transcending contemporary religious and political turmoil; Pärt, with his own potent conjuring of sound and silence defying time and tyranny.
The evening began from the distance of the west door, the Holst Singers huddled and hushed in Tallis’s sober If You Love Me, then moving into the near distance as voice climbed high upon voice in the Pentecostal volubility of Loquebantur variis linguis.
A short organ antiphon was played by William Whitehead as the choir moved stealthily from west to east, stilling themselves for Pärt’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons. Perfect tuning, perfect German, and the illusion of movement in stasis, as seven attributes of divine wisdom rose to a reverberant climax as the Key of David opened the spiritual prison-house. Layton drew a concentrated intensity from his singers which radiated in the high, clear air of O Morning Star.
Pärt’s 1989 Magnificat and Nunc dimittis from 2001 drew the Holst Singers back west and, as a single soprano voice soared high above the spare textures, the west door swung open and the Gloria dissipated into the dusk.
The two performances of Spem in alium dominated the second half, with the wandering audience drawn to the body of the choir itself, seemingly transfixed in the resonance of its voices. And, in between, a gathering by the altar, as the male voices of the Holst Singers beat the steady pulse of Pärt’s De profundis, to the dull echo of drum, gong and bell.
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the choir conducted by Stephen Layton  

Registered Charity no. 278024 Director: Stephen Layton President: James Bowman