At a glance
The Marian Consort
Exquisite...the ensemble sings with eloquence and expressive finesseThe Sunday Times
The Marian Consort is a Gramophone Award-nominated and internationally-renowned early music vocal ensemble. Under its founder and director, Rory McCleery, the ensemble has given concerts throughout the UK and Europe, features regularly on BBC Radio 3, and is a former ‘Young Artist’ of The Brighton Early Music Festival.
Taking its name from the Blessed Virgin Mary, a focus of religious devotion in the sacred music of all ages, The Marian Consort is a Gramophone Award-nominated and internationally-renowned early music vocal ensemble, recognised for its dynamic freshness of approach and innovative presentation of a broad range of repertoire. Under its founder and director, Rory McCleery, this ‘astounding’ ensemble has given concerts throughout the UK and Europe, features regularly on BBC Radio 3, and is a former ‘Young Artist’ of The Brighton Early Music Festival.
Known for its engaging performances and imaginative programming, the group draws its members from amongst the very best young singers on the early music scene today. They normally sing one to a part (dependent on the repertoire), with smaller vocal forces allowing clarity of texture and subtlety and flexibility of interpretation that illuminate the music for performer and audience alike.
Their repertoire encompasses the music of the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries with a particular focus on the exploration of lesser-known works, often bringing these to the attention of the wider public for the first time. The Marian Consort is also a proud exponent of contemporary music, juxtaposing latter-day pieces and Renaissance works in concert in order to shed new light on both. As part of this commitment to new music, the group has commissioned works from several leading British choral composers, including Cecilia McDowall, Matthew Martin and Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
The Marian Consort is also committed to inspiring a love of singing in others, and has led participatory educational workshops for a wide range of ages and abilities.
The Marian Consort often collaborates in performance and recording with a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles: recent project partners have included the Carducci Quartet; the Choir of Merton College, Oxford; the Berkeley Ensemble; the Rose Consort of Viols; the Monteverdi String Band; and Ludus Baroque in repertoire ranging from Byrd, Parsons, Bach and Monteverdi to Arvo Pärt and Michael Berkeley.
Together, the members of The Marian Consort perform across the UK and Europe: recent highlights have included recitals for Aldeburgh Music, the Tage Alter Musik Regensburg and the Festival de Música Antiga Valencia; concerts for the Leipzig A Cappella Festival and the St Magnus International Festival; and performances at the Festival Alte Musik Knechtsteden and the British Academy.
The Marian Consort has to date released eight CDs with Delphian Records, all of which have met with considerable critical acclaim. Their discs have been praised for ‘performances that glow with golden purity and soul’, ‘precision and pellucid textures’, ‘impeccable polish and blend’ and for ‘drawing the listener in by quiet persuasion and musical intelligence of the highest order’. Their latest recording, ‘Music for the Queen of Heaven’, a collection of contemporary Marian anthems including several commissions, was released in October 2017 and has been universally lauded, with reviewers describing it as ‘deliciously outstanding’, ‘a glorious vocal coup-de-theatre’ and ‘flawless throughout’.
The Marian Consort is also a pioneer of innovative and exciting projects which move beyond the confines of the traditional concert in order to bring the music of the past to today’s audiences. These have included several collaborations with musician and playwright Clare Norburn, whose concert drama ‘Breaking the Rules’ The Marian Consort has performed at Festivals across the UK, including Lichfield, Buxton, Cheltenham, Bath, and most recently ‘Baroque at the Edge’ at LSO St Lukes, where it garnered five-star reviews. This success has led to another joint project, ‘Galileo’ on the life of the great philosopher, musician and scientist, which this time also involves The Monteverdi String Band.
Plans for 2018 include performances and workshops centred on the music of Thomas Tallis, as part of a collaborative educational project in partnership with choirs throughout the UK; a residency at the Cambridge Early Music Festival; The Marian Consort’s inaugural tour to the United States of America; and a major UK concert tour in celebration of the ensemble’s tenth anniversary, featuring a brand new commission from composer Gabriel Jackson. The Marian Consort is directed by Rory McCleery, a freelance singer, choral conductor and academic.
The Marian Consort will make their Estonian Debut in Kuressaare this Thursday, 02 August, as part of the 24th Kuressaare Chamber Music Days Festival. The programme, entitled ‘Pater Peccavi,’ explores music of mourning from Renaissance Portugal and includes works by Estêvão de Brito, Duarte Lobo, Estêvão Lopes Morago, Thomas Tallis, and more. Read more
Ahead of the release of their 10th Anniversary Recording, In Sorrow’s Footsteps, The Marian Consort’s very own Rory McCleery sat down for a chat with Martin Cullingford, featured in the July 2018 issue of Gramophone Magazine. Read more
The Marian Consort will give the first performance of Gabriel Jackson’s ‘Stabat Mater’ later this month at the ‘Passiontide at Merton’ festival at Merton College, Oxford. Read more
The Marian Consort's 'Breaking the Rules' has received excellent reviews. The part-play, part-concert was performed at the inaugural Baroque at the Edge Festival at LSO St Luke's. Read more
This month, three of Ikon Arts Management’s artists feature in Gramophone Magazine. Newly-released CDs by The Sacconi Quartet, Peter Donohoe and The Marian Consort all attract high praise, and The Sacconi Quartet feature again in ‘Critic’s Choice’. Read more
fluid, vivid and, crucially, daringThe Guardian (for Breaking the Rules)
performances that glow with golden purity and soulThe Scotsman
exquisite…the ensemble sings with eloquence and expressive finesseSunday Times
the performances are models of discretion and musical taste, every texture clear, every phrase beautifully shapedThe Guardian
the works are mellifluously performed by The Marian Consort, who shape the sinuous polyphony with winning pliabilityBBC Music Magazine
sublime – sung with impeccable polish and blendSunday Times
drawing the listener in by quiet persuasion and musical intelligence of the highest orderThe Sunday Observer
Selected Discography —
In Sorrow's Footsteps
Choir & Organ
wonderfully controlled, electrifying performances
Music for the Queen of Heaven
Stabat Mater: Sacred Choral Music by Lennox and Michael Berkeley
sumptuously delivered and beautifully recorded
Gesualdo: Sacrae Cantiones
Related Media —
Gramophone podcast - Music for the Queen of HeavenIn this Gramophone Podcast, the director of the Marian Consort Rory McCleery talks to Editor Martin Cullingford about the ensemble's latest recording, 'Music for the Queen of Heaven', an album of modern Marian motets, many of which were commissioned by the choir.
- Hannah Marsden