Ad te levavi, Robert White
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
Robert White (c. 1538 – 1574) was probably born in Holborn, a district of London. He was an English composer whose liturgical music to Latin texts is considered particularly fine. His surviving works include a setting of verses from Lamentations, and instrumental music for viols. Thomas Morley, in his A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) extols him as one of the greatest English composers, equal to Orlando di Lasso. He notes White's bold harmonies, and includes him in a list of seven eminent Tudor composers that includes "Fayrfax, Taverner, Sheppard, Whyte, Parsons and Mr Byrd."
Unto thee lift I up mine eyes: O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, even as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress: even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are utterly despised. Our soul is filled with the scornful reproof of the wealthy: and with the despitefulness of the proud.
Literally meaning ‘rooster song’ or ‘cock crow’, Gallicantus takes its name from monastic antiquity; the name of the office held just before dawn, it was a ceremony which evoked the renewal of life offered by the coming day. Dedicated to renaissance music and directed by Gabriel Crouch, the membership of this early music group boasts a wealth of experience in consort singing. The group is bound by a shared love of communicating text, and creates performances which draw out unifying themes within apparently diverse repertoire; to this end they are as meticulous about providing context and insight for audiences as they are about crafting interpretations of the music they love. Recent concert highlights have seen the group perform in the UK (Wigmore Hall, Spitalfields Festival, York Early Music Festival), Germany (Essen, Maria Laach, Regensburg), Poland (Wrocław), Italy (Cremona), Belgium (Antwerp), and in the USA where they held a residency at Princeton University in 2014 giving concerts and interacting with student vocalists and composers. In the 2014/15 season concerts included a return to Princeton University as well as concerts in Utrecht (Holland), Schwetzingen (Germany), London (Temple Winter Music Festival, Chapel Royal, Palace of Westminster) and Cratfield (UK). Gallicantus regularly releases benchmark programmes on CD on the Signum Classics label, which form the basis of their concert programmes. With Hymns, Psalms and Lamentations, dedicated to the music of Robert White, critics acclaimed an “impressive debut” (Observer) of “impassioned, exciting music” (The Times), whilst Gramophone Magazine declared: “What an outstanding disc… The opening of the Lamentations could stand as a kind of illuminated initial at the beginning of a gorgeous manuscript, so transparent and luminous is it”. Their second recording Dialogues of Sorrow – Passions on the Death of Prince Henry (1612) was described as “one of the year’s best choral releases” by TheArtsDesk.com, possessing “singing of clarity, suppleness and poignancy” (Daily Telegraph); whilst International Record Review proclaimed “...this is a well sung, intelligently produced and exhaustively researched project, which deserves great success.”
The 2012 release The Word Unspoken, featuring music by William Byrd and Philippe de Monte was equally well-received, with The Sunday Times saying “The intensity of the music is reflected in Gallicantus’s beautifully shaped performances”. It was named ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Gramophone Magazine, which noted that “The ensemble’s view is delivered with such intelligence and rhetorical persuasiveness that the cumulative weight of their Byrd, in particular, is well-nigh symphonic in effect.” The group’s fourth CD – the remarkable Lagrime di San Pietro by Lassus – has cemented Gallicantus as one of Europe’s foremost early music ensembles, earning a second consecutive ‘Editor’s Choice’ selection from Gramophone, as well as nomination for a coveted Gramophone Award in 2014.
Gabriel Crouch is Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music at Princeton University. He began his musical career as an eight-year-old in the choir of Westminster Abbey, where he performed a solo at the wedding of HRH Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson. After completing a choral scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, he was offered a place in the renowned a cappella group The King’s Singers in 1996. In the next eight years he made a dozen recordings on the BMG label (including a Grammy nomination), and gave more than 900 performances in almost every major concert venue in the world. Special collaborative projects saw him working and performing with some of the world’s most respected artists, including percussionist Evelyn Glennie, pianists Emmanuel Ax and George Shearing, singer Barbara Hendricks and ‘Beach Boy’ Bruce Johnston.
Since moving to the USA in 2005, first to run the choral program at DePauw University in Indiana, and now at Princeton University, he has built an international profile as a conductor and director, with recent engagements in China and Australia as well as Europe and the United States. He has been musical director of Gallicantus since its inception in 2008, with whom he has released four recordings under the Signum Classics label to rapturous reviews, garnering ‘Editor’s Choice’ accolades in Gramophone and Early Music Review, and, for the 2012 release The Word Unspoken, a place on BBC Radio’s CD Review list of the top nine classical releases of the year. When the academic calendar allows, Gabriel maintains parallel careers in singing and record production, crossing the Atlantic frequently to appear with such ensembles as Tenebrae and The Gabrieli Consort, and in the US, performing recitals of lutesong with such acclaimed lutenists as Daniel Swenberg and Nigel North. As a producer his latest credits have included Winchester Cathedral Choir, The Gabrieli Consort and Tenebrae.
His achievements in the choral world have led to many invitations to adjudicate choral competitions, notably the mixed choir final of ‘Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year’ (televised by the BBC). His work as a singer, coach and musical director has led to his name appearing in the London Times’ list of ‘Great British Hopes’.