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Early music ensemble, Sestina, present their first programme of contemporary music

Thursday 17th August 2017 at 11am 0 Comments Music & Opera


Sixteen of Northern Ireland’s most talented young singers will perform a spine-tingling, ambitious programme of choral contemporary music this September, in Dublin and Belfast, supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding and Exitex Ltd.

Sestina, the Belfast-based early music ensemble, will start its season with an exciting new departure.  Best known for its authentic interpretations of the works of composers, Henry Purcell and Claudio Monteverdi, Sestina will perform an all-21st century programme in St Ann’s church, Dublin, Friday 8 September and at the Ulster Museum, Saturday 9 September.  The performances will see sixteen of Northern Ireland’s most talented young voices sing works by living composers David Lang, James Macmillan, Jan Sandstrom, Philip Moore and Roderick Williams. 

Speaking about Sestina’s latest project, musical director Mark Chambers said, “Exploring the new and shedding new light on the old is at the heart of what Sestina does as a group.  We are very excited to bring this programme to the stunning surroundings of the Ulster Museum.   What people may not realise is that every single work in this programme has a very strong link with early music, so we are in fact staying true to our roots. For example, The Little Match Girl Passion is directly inspired of course by the Hans Christian Andersen children’s tale, but also by Bach’s St Matthew Passion - echoing the Passion of Christ with the death of the innocent child.”

He added, “The other major work in the concert is the incredible, Miserere, by Scottish composer Sir James Macmillan. This takes musical themes from the famous Allegri Miserere and places them side by side with Scottish folk tunes to create a modern choral masterpiece.”

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “In just six years, Sestina has quickly established a significant profile as a force to be reckoned with in the delivery of high-quality early music with highlight performances including, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and King Arthur, Monteverdi’s Vespers and works by the Bach family.  The September performances will include some of the most hauntingly beautiful music around performed by some of our most exceptional young singers and are not to be missed.”

The concert features singers, Fiona Flynn, Rebecca Murphy, Sarah Rennix, Joseph Zubier, Laura Lamph, Caolan Keaveney, Graham Cooper, Malachy Frame, Aaron O’Hare and Brian McAlea.  As with all Sestina’s projects, these concerts offer a vital platform to showcase exceptionally talented local singers. 

For tickets visit or the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre.


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