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In conversation with Mark Chambers

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Sestina's Musical Director talks motivations for curating our upcoming Music for the Sun King programme - a stunningly unique collection of rarely performed French Baroque music

We're delighted to be bringing Music for the Sun King to Belfast, Dublin and Cork this April. This incredibly exciting programme has been curated by Sestina Musical Director and Counter-tenor, Mark Chambers. We spoke to Mark whilst he was deep in preparations for Sestina's tour to delve a little deeper into the world of the Sun King.


When curating the programme for Sestina's 2019 Spring programme, what motivated you to choose the Court and Chapel of the Sun King, Louis XIV?


Mark: It is simply an incredible repertoire that deserves to be heard more, and there is so much fantastic music to explore. I was very lucky to be exposed to this period of music shortly after leaving College, and the sound world and sumptuous nature of it has stayed with me ever since; I hope it has the same effect on the young singers of Sestina and audience alike.


"Music accompanied every aspect of life at Versailles, waking, bathing, socialising and even a Suite to eat to ...we are trying to represent the variety that would have been heard."

The Music for the Sun King performance tackles rarely performed music from the Chapelle Royale, why do you feel these pieces are often overlooked?


M: There is a perception of this music that it is "fussy" and therefore difficult to perform, and of course the French language and French pronunciation of Latin lend their own difficulties, but I feel once a "house style" has been set the music has a flow and expressive uniqueness to the period. I am very excited to bring this music to life with the young singers of Sestina.



What can audiences expect from a live production of this programme?


M: Music accompanied every aspect of life at Versailles, waking, bathing, socialising and even a suite to eat to (maybe we'll do this next time!) and we are trying to represent the variety that would have been heard. A whole range of variety-from celebratory double choir motets to intimate chamber works. A range of solo and ensemble singing and instrumental playing of the highest quality in the Suite from Alcione -including a brilliant representation in music of a storm at sea, sailors dances and much more.


"I am very excited to bring this music to life with the young singers of Sestina."

Music for the Sun King brings Sestina to Cork for their second performance in the city; are you looking forward to breaking new ground there as an ensemble?


Absolutely. Cork is such a music loving city, and we had a fantastic time performing our Bach programme at the East Cork Early Music Festival. With their annual Choral Festival and Competition we hope we can attract that audience to come and support us as we explore lesser known choral repertoire. I'm particularly excited to perform in the Neo Gothic splendour of St Peter and St Pauls, which I think will lend a suitably dramatic backdrop to the final concert of our tour.


Tickets for Music for the Sun King : http://bit.ly/SunKingTour


Belfast: Clonard Monastery - 26th April 2019, 7.30pm

Dublin: Christ Church Cathedral - 27th April 2019, 8pm

Cork: Saints Peter and Paul's Church - 28th April 2019, 3pm


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