Early Music Festival Utrecht 2015 part 21: Vox Luminis

Vox Luminis: Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium

In between the morning and afternoon concerts, workshops, lectures which take place during the Utrecht Early Music Festival, there is usually a fabulous fringe concert in the large hall of the Tivoli-Vredenburg building. On Sunday the 6th of September, this was not the case.

Instead, the cultural season 2015 – 2016 was opened by a presenter, the artists in residence of the Early Music Festival 2015, and a local poet. Fortunately, the radio presenter quickly disappeared to another location – though not fast enough. The poet Ingmar Heytze kept things short too, though not short enough.

Vox Luminis should have filled the 45-minute-long opening programme of the 2015 – 2016 cultural season at Tivoli-Vredenburg. After all: the Early Music Festival had not closed yet and they were this version’s artists in residence. But no; as usual, a few spot-light addicts had to claim the stage as well.

Fortunately, the forty-voices strong Vox Luminis obliterated the jarring two discords of this programme. Vox Luminis performed Thomas Tallis’ greatest music: Spem in Alium. First, by standing in groups of five in a circle on the stage in the large hall. Then by going up and continue their performance along the middle tier of this large hall. The effect was outstanding and they deservedly received a standing ovation lasting several minutes.

It was not the first time I had witnessed and heard such a performance of music using “all the corners” of a venue. During a previous Early Music Festival, a concert by a Spanish ensemble had been even more mind-blowing than what Vox Luminis did. The Spanish ensemble had used a similar technique of dispersing groups of singers throughout a local Utrecht church during their concert. The effect of hearing medieval or renaissance polyphony being sung in such a manner is truly mind-blowing.

So there was totally no need to drag some radio presenter or poet on stage for an opening of a cultural season. Vox Luninis should have had the stage and hall all to itself. Too sad, that some folks do not understand outstanding music and outstanding performers need no others and especially not mediocrities or down-right clowns, to move a public to tears.

Opening of Tivoli-Vredenburg cultural season 2015 – 2016 by a.o. Vox Luminis, Sunday 6th of September 2015, large hall, Tivoli-Vredenburg

There is no recording available of Vox Luminis performing “Spem in Alium”.
Youtube Huelgas Ensemble: Tallis, Spem in Alium


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